Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Shuttle Docks At Station Despite Sensor Glitch

Shuttle Endeavour arrived at the International Space Station after a high-flying docking pulled off despite the loss of a key guidance sensor.

Mission commander George Zamka instead had to rely on crewmates wielding handheld lasers and out-the-window visual cue to bring the 100-ton spaceship to a safe mooring at the outpost as both flew 220 miles above the planet.

"Capture confirmed," Endeavour pilot Terry Virts radioed to Mission Control after docking rings on the shuttle and station came into contact, triggering latches that locked the craft together.

"Copy Endeavour. Capture confirmed," fellow astronaut Rick "C.J." Sturckow replied.

The hook-up created a bit of relative motion between the two spacecraft, and Mission Control told the shuttle crew to standby until it dampened out before proceeding with standard post-docking procedures.

Zamka docked the shuttle at the station after a two-day trip from Kennedy Space Center. The ground-up rendezvous and docking was pretty much a textbook operation with one exception. A trajectory control sensor in the shuttle's cargo bay delivered faulty data as Endeavour closed within 200 feet of the outpost.

It was deja vu all over again for Zamka.

The Marine colonel cruised aboard Discovery during his first flight into space in late 2007, a mission to deliver the U.S. harmony module to the station. He was piloting Discovery on its departure from the outpost when a computer glitch took out key guidance sensors. No problem, Zamka took manual control of the spaceship and deftly performed a flyaround of the outpost before putting Discovery on course for a landing at Kennedy Space Center.

Coming up next:A hatch opening and welcome ceremony at 2:05 a.m. A crew of five is waiting to meet the shuttle astronauts: NASA astronauts Jeff Williams and T.J. Creamer, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, Russian cosmonauts Max Suraev and Oleg Kotov.

You can watch live here in The Flame Trench. Click the NASA TV box on the right side of the page to launch our NASA TV viewer and live round-the-clock coverage of Endeavour's mission to the station.Refresh this page, too, for periodic updates.

No comments: