A replacement Soyuz spacecraft successfully docked to the International Space Station early Monday, providing the station crew with a new "lifeboat" should an unexpected return to Earth become necessary. The docking occurred at 2:58 a.m. as the station orbited over south-central Russia near the Mongolian border.
The Soyuz has a lifetime on orbit of about six months. The crew of the Soyuz which docked today, commander Talgat Musabayev, Flight Engineer Yuri Baturin and American Businessman Dennis Tito, will return to Earth aboard the Soyuz capsule that launched the Expedition One crew to the station last Oct. 31. That Soyuz has been at the station since it docked there Nov. 2.
When this morning's docking occurred, the shuttle Endeavour was about 78 statute miles ahead of the space station. Its seven crewmembers will spend today preparing for its return to Earth. Landing is scheduled for 8:04 a.m. CDT Tuesday at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Endeavour crewmembers were awakened at 12:41 a.m. by music from the soundtrack of the movie Gladiator.
Today, shuttle Commander Kent Rominger, Pilot Jeff Ashby and Flight Engineer John Phillips will test Endeavour's flight control surfaces and steering jets. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, mission specialist Scott Parazynski, cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov and European Space Agency astronaut Umberto Guidoni will stow away much of the equipment the crew has used over the past 11 days in space. All seven crewmembers are also scheduled to participate in a press conference with media in the U.S., Canada and Italy at 10:01 a.m.
Endeavour accomplished all of its major mission goals during the eight days it was docked to the space station. Parazynski and Hadfield installed and helped test a new Canadian-built robotic arm on the space station during two spacewalks that lasted a total of 14 hours and 50 minutes. Hadfield made history on that first space walk by becoming the first Canadian astronaut to ever walk in space. Working with the station's Expedition Two crew, Russian Commander Yury Usachev and astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms, they transferred more than three tons of supplies, equipment and scientific experiments to the station, then repacked 1,600 pounds of equipment that was no longer needed aboard the station.
Space station flight controllers were successful overnight in reformatting the hard drive on new Command and Control (C&C) Computer One, which was originally a payload computer. Controllers then copied all the software from the prime C&C 2, to the C&C 1 hard drive. After more testing later today, the station's three C&Cs will have two hard drives that contain all the necessary software to run the station's systems.
The next status report will be issued Monday afternoon or when events warrant.
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