Discovery docks with International Space Station

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Space Shuttle Discovery

The United States Space Shuttle Discovery docked with the International Space Station today at 5:12 p.m. ET. After a two-day journey, the space shuttle reached the space station for a week long stay to rewire the orbiting lab, install a new addition and rotate out a crew member. Astronaut Sunita "Suni" Williams will live for six months at the space lab, replacing German astronaut Thomas Reiter of the European Space Agency..

An hour earlier the orbiter did a slow back flip so that crew members at the international space station could photograph its mid section for any signs of liftoff damage. This has been a routine procedure since the Columbia tragedy in which the space shuttle Columbia sustained damage on liftoff leading to its disintegration in the atmosphere. There appeared to be no problems with the heat shield so commander Mark Polansky continued the docking process.

As the space station came into view of Discovery, Williams told Mission Control: "It's beautiful."

Mission Control responded: "I don't know what kind of creature comforts you're going to have, but you're going to have a room with a view."

A $11 million extension will be put into place on Tuesday during the first of the mission's three spacewalks. Astronauts plan to rewire the space lab, switching it from a temporary power source to a permanent one, during the two other spacewalks.