Discovery's astronauts executed the first-ever docking with the International Space Station late Friday night, easing the shuttle to a textbook linkup with the new orbital facility at 11:24pm Central time as the two craft flew over the Russian-Kazakh border.
Commander Kent Rominger nudged Discovery to the docking with the ISS following a flawless rendezvous. Once a hard mate was established between the two vehicles, the astronauts began to perform leak checks and pressurization checks prior to opening the hatch to the Pressurized Mating Adapter attached to the Unity module. Discovery docked to Unity's Pressurized Mating Adapter # 2, which was pointed to deep space during the final phase of the rendezvous and approach to the station by the shuttle.
The astronauts will begin an eight-hour sleep period at 8:50am Central time this morning and will be awakened just before 5pm this afternoon to begin preparations for the spacewalk by Tammy Jernigan and Dan Barry late tonight to install additional equipment to the outside of the ISS.
The next STS-96 mission status report will be issued at approximately 6am Central time or as events warrant.
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