Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shuttle Endeavour nears space station docking

Endeavour soars near space station with the moon behind. (NASA)

Shuttle Endeavour is just minutes from docking to the International Space Station at 6:16 a.m. EDT.

Endeavour slowly closed in to a distance of 600 feet from the orbital outpost at 5:15 a.m. to begin an orbital ballet in space as the two spacecraft flew 240 miles high over southwestern Russia.

A minute later, Endeavour began a 360-degree back flip known as the Rendevouz Pitch Manuever, so that the space station's crew members could photograph the underside of the shuttle to survey for any damage caused by Monday's launch.

Using a 800-mm and 400-mm cameras, station astronauts Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli took several hundred images of the orbiter's belly as the shuttle was held motionless for ten minutes.

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