U.S. shuttle Endeavour docks with space station

By Xinhua

Washington : After a nearly-two-day pursuit, the U.S. space shuttle Endeavour arrived at the International Space Station and linked up with it at 11:49 p.m. EDT on Wednesday (0349 GMT on Thursday), NASA TV reported.

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After Endeavour docks, the shuttle crew and the Expedition 16 crew at the station will conduct pressure and leak checks before the hatches between the two spacecraft open a little after 1:00 a.m. Thursday (0500 GMT). They will greet each other and combine forces for 12 days of joint operations.

About an hour before docking, Endeavour crew guided the shuttle through a back-flip maneuver, giving the astronauts on the space station the opportunity to take pictures of the orbiter’s protective heat-resistant tiles. These photos will be sent to engineers on Earth for analysis, said NASA mission control center on the ground.

Endeavour delivered a two-armed robot made by Canada, the first part of Japan’s orbital laboratory Kibo and a collection of experiments to the orbital outpost.

During the 12-day stay at the station, five spacewalks will be carried out, the most ever conducted by the crew of a visiting shuttle. Spacewalkers will attach the first component of Kibo complex and install Dextre to the outside of the station.

Endeavour crew’s mission specialist Garrett Reisman will join the Expedition 16 crew by trading places with European Space Agency’s astronaut Leopold Eyharts, who arrived at the station aboard Atlantis in February. Eyharts will return to Earth on Endeavour.

Launched on March 11, Endeavour will spend a record-breaking 16-day in space during a flight mission to the space station.