11 a.m. CDT Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-131 MCC Status Report #05
HOUSTON – Space shuttle Discovery and its seven-member crew took up temporary residence at the International Space Station with a smooth rendezvous and docking at 2:44 a.m. CDT Wednesday, April 7.

After procedural leak checks to ensure a solid mate between the two vehicles – which orbit the Earth with a combined mass of more than 1 million pounds – the hatches were opened at 4:11 a.m. and the joint crew of 13 began at least eight days of work.

Discovery’s crew includes Commander Alan G. Poindexter, Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. and Mission Specialists Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Rick Mastracchio, Stephanie Wilson, Clayton Anderson and Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki.

Several “firsts” in the space business occurred with hatch opening: the first time four women have been aboard the same spacecraft during a mission and the first time two Japanese astronauts have been aboard the space station simultaneously – Yamazaki and fellow Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi serving as a member of the station’s Expedition 23 crew.

He is joined by station Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov, Mikhail Kornienko, T.J. Creamer and Tracy Caldwell Dyson.

Just before guiding Discovery to a docking 215 miles up, tracking north of Caracas, Venezuela, Poindexter commanded the shuttle through a nose-over-tail 360-degree maneuver so the outside thermal protection system could be documented by station crew members Kotov and Creamer using digital cameras with high-powered lenses.

Earlier the crew attempted once again to activate the shuttle’s Ku-Band Antenna System to no avail. The loss of the high-data rate television and radar capability was no issue for the rendezvous and docking activities. All shuttle crews train for just such a contingency.

All imagery gathered as Discovery approached the station along with that collected Monday and Tuesday will be downloaded to Mission Control for analysis via the station’s Ku-Band system to ensure the shuttle’s heat shield is safe for re-entry April 18.

The two crews head to bed about 11 this morning and will be awakened at 7:21 tonight.

The next shuttle status report will be issued following crew wakeup, or earlier if events warrant.

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