Commander Brian Duffy gently maneuvered the Space Shuttle Discovery to a flawless docking with the 70-ton International Space Station this afternoon as the two craft flew 240 miles above Russia.
Discovery latched onto the station at 12:45 p.m. CDT, completing a perfect rendezvous that had been under way since Discovery's launch on Wednesday. Later, Astronaut Mike Lopez-Alegria opened the outermost hatch to the station at about 3:30 p.m. CDT. Soon thereafter, at about 4:15 p.m., Lopez-Alegria opened the hatch into the station's Unity module, and Duffy entered the orbiting outpost, followed closely by Lopez-Alegria and fellow crew members Leroy Chiao and Pilot Pam Melroy. The crew then began transferring equipment and supplies from Discovery to the station, continuing to set up the complex for the arrival of the first resident crew, a mission called Expedition 1 that is planned to launch at the end of the month.
Meanwhile, at the aft controls in Discovery's cockpit, Astronaut Bill McArthur and Japanese Astronaut Koichi Wakata again powered up the Shuttle's mechanical arm. Wakata and McArthur, the backup arm operator for the mission, maneuvered the robotic arm for a camera survey of the station and the Shuttle's payload bay. Tomorrow, Wakata will use the arm to attach the first of two major components Discovery has brought to the complex - an exterior framework that houses gyroscopes and communications equipment called the Z-1 truss.
Flight controllers have decided to attempt no further troubleshooting of Discovery's Ku-Band communications system which failed yesterday. The failure will reduce the amount of television that can be transmitted to the ground during the mission, however the crew did send television of the docking and entry into the station to the ground today through alternate communications systems. A few such opportunities for television will be available each day during the remainder of the flight, although they will usually be only a few minutes in length. Flight controllers also use a sequential still video system, a still image updated every few seconds, to follow activities aboard the Shuttle.
The crew will begin a sleep period at 9:17 p.m. CDT and awaken at 5:17 a.m. CDT Saturday for day four of the mission. The next Mission Control Center status report will be issued at 7 a.m. CDT or as events warrant.
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