Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Endeavour Docks Safely At International Outpost

Shuttle Endeavour docked at the International Space Station today, capping a two-day commute that started with a cloud-covered launch Monday from Kennedy Space Center.

With mission commander Mark Kelly at the controls, Endeavour eased up to the $100 billion station as the spacecraft flew high above the Pacific Ocean just east of Chile.

The shuttle docked at the forward end of the U.S. Harmony module at 6:14 a.m. EDT.

"Houston, station, capture confirmed," shuttle pilot Gregory "Box" Johnson said.

In an old nautical tradition now followed in space, a bell rung within the outpost.

"Endeavour arriving," said Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency.

The docking ring on the shuttle's docking system now will retract, joining Endeavour with the station and its six resident crewmembers. A series of leak checks will be performed over the next two hours to make certain there is a tight seal between Endeavour and the station.

Hatches between the spacecraft are expected to swing open at 8:36 a.m. A safety briefing will be held before the shuttle crew heads off for its first task at the outpost: Mounting a spare parts pallet on the exterior of the station.

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