As Endeavour continues its pursuit of the International Space Station, the seven astronauts and cosmonauts on board were awakened at 6:21 a.m. today to prepare for a busy day as they close the final 765 miles between the two vehicles in anticipation of a docking just before 2 p.m. CST today. Endeavour and the ISS are to link up off the British coast, southwest of Cardiff, Wales.
Endeavour’s crew – Commander Dom Gorie, Pilot Mark Kelly, Mission Specialists Linda Godwin and Dan Tani, Expedition Four Commander Yury Onufrienko, and Flight Engineers Carl Walz and Dan Bursch – will quickly move into their final rendezvous activities today, bringing the shuttle to a position about 9 ½ miles behind the International Space Station about 11:44 a.m. today.
From that position behind the station, Gorie and Kelly will command Endeavour ’s jets in a final major rendezvous maneuver to begin the final phase of the approach for docking. Endeavour will close the final miles to the station during the next orbit of the Earth, about 90 minutes.
As Endeavour approaches the station, the on-board rendezvous radar system will begin tracking the station providing distance and closing rate information to the crew. During the approach, the shuttle can perform up to four, small mid-course corrections at regular intervals. Just after the fourth burn, Endeavour will be about one-half mile below the station. Gorie will take over manual control of the approach, slowing Endeavour’s approach and maneuvering to a point about 600 feet directly beneath the station. There he will begin a quarter-circle of the station, slowly moving to a position in front of the complex, in line with its direction of travel.
Once Endeavour has firmly docked to the station, and required leak checks are complete, the hatches between the spacecraft will open around 4 p.m. allowing Expedition Three Commander Frank Culbertson, Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin to greet their newest guests.
Culbertson, Dezhurov and Tyurin began their formal residency on the station on August 13 as their custom-made Soyuz seat liners were installed on the Soyuz return vehicle. Their residency will officially end once those seat liners are transferred to Endeavour and the Expedition Four crew’s seat liners are installed in the Soyuz on Saturday.
The next STS-108 mission status report will be issued at about 6 p.m. today or as events warrant.
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