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Tuesday, 12 December 2006 05:29

Space Shuttle docks with International Space Station

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The Space Shuttle Discovery has safely docked with the International Space Station as astronauts prepare for an intensive overhaul of the station's electrical systems.

The crew are schedule to open the hatch at 7pm Monday (10am Tuesday AEST) to begin a seven day visit to the station, orbiting 216 miles above the Earth. During their stay, the crew will conduct three spacewalks to reconfigure and redistribute power generated by the station, the first spacewalk scheduled for 3.42pm Tuesday (6.42am Wednesday AEST). They are also delivering and installing a 2-ton addition to the backbone of the station, the P5 integrated truss structure.

Also onboard the shuttle is the station’s next crew member, US-born Navy test pilot Commander Sunita Williams. She has also worked with the Russian Space Agency on the Russian contribution to the station, and worked with the first Expedition Crew to stationed to the ISS in November 2000.

Discovery is slated to stay at the station until December 18, returning to Earth on Thursday December 21. NASA engineers are keen to have the ship and crew safely on the ground before New Years Day, as the shuttle's navigation software is not designed to handle the new year roll over.


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