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U.S. shuttle Discovery docks with space station

2010-04-08 08:36 BJT

Backgrounder: Crew members of U.S. shuttle Discovery's STS-131 mission

Backgrounder: Introduction to U.S. shuttle Discovery's mission

WASHINGTON, April 7 (Xinhua) -- After a nearly-two-day pursuit, U.S. space shuttle Discovery arrived at the International Space Station and docked with it Wednesday morning, NASA said.

After a nearly-two-day pursuit, U.S. space shuttle Discovery arrived at the International Space Station and docked with it Wednesday morning, NASA said. 
After a nearly-two-day pursuit, U.S. space shuttle Discovery arrived at 
the International Space Station and docked with it Wednesday morning, 
NASA said.

Shuttle Commander Alan Poindexter docked Discovery to the station's Harmony node at 3:44 a.m. EDT (0744 GMT). At the time they connected, the two spacecraft were flying 225 miles over the Caribbean sea near Caracas, Venezuela.

Poindexter and his crew completed the rendezvous operation without the failed shuttle Ku-band dish antenna, relying instead on an array of other navigation tools to precisely track the space station.

At 5:41 a.m. (0941 GMT), the crews will open shuttle and station hatches and hold the traditional welcome ceremony. The shuttle crew will use the station's equipment to send down detailed laser images of Discovery's wings and nose. The images were collected Tuesday, but the antenna breakdown prevented their immediate relay to Mission Control.

Discovery's seven-person crew will join the six-person space station crew for more than a week of work together. Four women are aboard the same spacecraft for the first time after the docking.

Discovery lifted off on Monday morning from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will deliver eight tons of supplies and equipment to the station, including spare bunks for the occupants of the space station, a large tank of ammonia coolant and seven racks filled with science experiments.

Discovery's STS-131 mission is the 33rd shuttle mission to the station. Three flights to the station remain after STS-131 before the shuttles retire in 2010.