Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Discovery Docks to the Space Station

Following an orbital dance 220 miles above the earth, Discovery docked to the international space station late today following an eight minute delay caused by bad communications between the two spacecraft.

Docking occurred at 5:19:53 pm EDT today, while the duo crossed over Lake Wells in western Australia.

It was a beautiful scene as Discovery arrived upon the space station and then began a fly around maneuver, and later a back flip to allow the station's crew to photograph the orbiter's belly. The images will be used to spot check for any damage caused during launch.

"Welcome the space station, Discovery. We're glad you're here," stated Station commander Mike Fincke minutes after docking.

The docking delay occurred due to the delay in the
rendezvous pitch maneuver, or RPM, which took place while the orbiter was 600 feet below the station. The RPM saw Discovery perform a black flip. During the flip, crew members aboard the station used a 400 mm & 800 mm cameras to take detailed images of the shuttle's underside.

Hatch opening could begin as early as 5:45 pm ET, with the two crews shaking hands by 6:15 pm ET.

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