Space Shuttle Docks with Space Station

Space Shuttle Docks with Space Station
By: Heartland News
The space shuttle Atlantis docked with the international space station Sunday, as engineers continued to review photographs of a section of peeled-back thermal blanket on the space shuttle.

Atlantis commander Rick Sturckow eased the shuttle into the space station's docking port. Latches fastened the shuttle and orbiting space lab together at 3:36 p.m. EDT. The shuttle's two-day chase of the space station ended about 210 miles above southeastern Australia.

It was the first visit this year by a shuttle to the space station. The shuttle was delivering the newest member of the space station's crew as well as a new segment to the orbiting outpost. Prior to Atlantis' arrival, astronaut Danny Olivas took additional photographs from inside the shuttle of the area where the thermal blanket had peeled back. The images were sent to Mission Control for analysis.

NASA engineers are focusing their attention on a gap about 4 inches by 6 inches that was discovered after Friday's launch from Kennedy Space Center.

Soon after the hatches are opened, U.S. space station resident Sunita Williams and shuttle astronaut Clayton Anderson will trade out seatliners on the Russian emergency vehicle attached to the station.
Williams will return to Earth aboard Atlantis after more than six months in space.

During the 11-day mission, Atlantis will also deliver to the station a new segment, which includes a third pair of solar arrays. The new addition was expected to be attached to the station Monday during the first spacewalk.