4 p.m. CDT Sunday, July 10, 2011
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-135 MCC Status Report #05
HOUSTON – Atlantis docked with the International Space Station at 10:07 a.m. CDT Sunday with a cargo-carrying module in its payload bay filled with equipment and supplies for the orbiting laboratory.

“Atlantis arriving,” said Flight Engineer Ron Garan after the ceremonial ringing of the station’s bell. “Welcome to the International Space Station for the last time.”

After a pause to let the relative motion between the two spacecraft dampen out and do leak checks, hatches separating crews were opened at 11:47 a.m. Shuttle crew members, Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim, entered the station moments later to begin their week-plus stay.

First came the standard safety briefing for the new arrivals. Then work began.

Ferguson and Hurley used the shuttle arm to take its 50-foot extension boom from the station’s Canadarm2 operated by station Flight Engineers Garan and Satoshi Furukawa. The station arm had plucked the boom from its stowage position on the shuttle cargo bay sill. The handoff was to prepare to use the boom for any needed shuttle heat shield inspection later this week. Magnus worked with TV setup and Walheim transferred spacewalk gear.

Docking had gone just as planned. Ferguson and the crew of space shuttle Atlantis began their final approach to the station from about eight miles distance with the terminal initiation burn at 7:29 a.m.

About 600 feet below the station, Atlantis did a backflip to enable station crew members to photograph the shuttle’s heat shield. Flight Engineers Mike Fossum, Satoshi Furukawa and Sergei Volkov used cameras with 1,000 mm, 800 mm and 400 mm lenses, respectively, to take high resolution digital photos of the shuttle’s upper and lower surfaces. The photos were being sent to mission control to be evaluated by experts on the ground to look for any damage.

Flight controllers began monitoring reports from the Department of Defense’s U.S. Strategic Command that a piece of orbital debris may come near the station and shuttle complex about noon on Tuesday. The debris, part of satellite COSMOS 375, is one of more than 500,000 pieces of debris tracked in Earth’s orbit. The team expected updated tracking information following today’s docking to help determine if a maneuver using the shuttle’s thrusters is necessary to avoid the debris.

The next status report will be issued after crew wakeup or earlier if warranted. The crew is scheduled to awaken just before 2 a.m. Monday.


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