New residents arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) today following a flawless docking of Discovery to the orbital outpost to relieve a trio of space travelers who have lived and worked on the complex since March.
Discovery Commander Scott Horowitz, with the assistance of Pilot Rick Sturckow and Mission Specialists Pat Forrester and Dan Barry, carefully guided the Shuttle to a linkup with the ISS at 1:42 p.m. Central time as the two craft sailed 240 miles above northwestern Australia. On board Discovery were the new Station Commander Frank Culbertson, and his Expedition Three crewmates, Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin.
Expedition Two Commander Yury Usachev and Flight Engineers Jim Voss and Susan Helms looked on from the station’s Destiny laboratory as Discovery arrived this afternoon, then worked in concert with their Shuttle counterparts to ensure a tight seal and a firm mate between the two vehicles.
At 3:41 p.m., hatches finally swung open between Discovery and the ISS, and the two crews greeted one another. First aboard the station was Culbertson to survey his home for the next four months. Within minutes, all ten astronauts and cosmonauts had shared greetings before settling in for a station safety briefing conducted by Usachev.
Monday the crews will attach the Leonardo cargo carrier to the station at about 9:30 a.m. and begin unloading its supplies.
Just prior to this operation, the two station crews will systematically begin the process of handing over command from Expedition Two to Expedition Three. The plan is for Culbertson and Helms to remove her form-fitting seat liner from the Soyuz spacecraft and replace it with Culbertson’s at about 7 a.m. Two hours later at about 9 a.m., Dezhurov and Usachev will do the same followed at 12:30 p.m. by the seat liner swap of Tyurin and Voss. The Soyuz is used as a return vehicle in the event of a problem on the station.
Crew sleep is scheduled for about 8 tonight with a musical wakeup call from Mission Control at 5:10 a.m. Monday.
The station and shuttle complex is orbiting the Earth every 92 minutes in good shape. The next status report will be issued Monday morning shortly after crew wakeup, or earlier, if events warrant.
- end -