A rendezvous in space awaits Space Shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station this morning with docking expected at 10:24 a.m. Central time. The shuttle's six crewmembers are the first visitors for the station's Expedition Five crew since it arrived aboard the station in early June. The week of joint operations begins when the hatches are opened about 12:30 p.m. Television of the approach, docking and hatch opening is expected on NASA TV.
Shortly after the musical wakeup call to the crew at 2:46 this morning – Tina Turner's "The Best" for Commander Jeff Ashby from his wife, Paige – the shuttle crew focused its attention on the rendezvous and docking procedures that will culminate with the orbiter docking to a port on the U.S. Destiny Lab of the station.
The Terminal Initiation burn preceding the final approach is planned for 8:04 a.m. and occurs with the two spacecraft 50,000 feet apart. That is followed by a series of four small correction burns, which set the stage for Ashby's taking manual control of Atlantis' thruster jets as he looks out the overhead and rear windows of the flight deck. He will fly Atlantis to a point 600 feet below the station, then begin a quarter circle alignment of the orbiter's docking system and Destiny, which will place the shuttle about 300 feet in front of the station.
Assisting with the rendezvous using lasers and computers are the remaining shuttle crewmembers, including Pilot Pam Melroy and Mission Specialists Dave Wolf, Sandy Magnus, Piers Sellers and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin.
Awaiting the arrival of Atlantis are the three station crewmembers – Commander Valery Korzun, NASA ISS Science Officer Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Sergei Treschev – in their 126th day in space.
Thursday will see the installation of the station's newest component – the Starboard 1 (S1) Truss – and shortly thereafter, the first of three planned spacewalks will begin by Wolf and Sellers to connect power, data and fluid lines between S1 and the station.
Crew sleep is set to begin about 6:30 this evening and the next STS-112 mission status report will be issued at about 6 p.m. Wednesday, or earlier if events warrant.
- end -