Endeavour docks with International Space Station

November 17th, 2008 - 8:18 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 17 (DPA) The space shuttle Endeavour successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) Sunday evening.The shuttle reached the ISS a few minutes earlier than planned at 22:02 GMT and NASA ground control said the docking high above northern India took place without problems.

The seven-member crew received a warm welcome from the three-member ISS crew as the hatch between the two crafts was opened.

“Welcome Endeavour,” said ISS commander Michael Fincke. “We understand that this house is in need of an extreme makeover and you’re the crew to do it.”

The shuttle brings with it a slew of home improvements, including an exercise machine, a second toilet, two sleep stations and a water recycling pump to turn urine into drinking water. The shuttle crew is also bringing two food warmers and a larger refrigerator.

The upgrades to the space station’s living space should enable it to house six residents on longer-term assignments - an increase from the current three - after the retirement in 2010 of the US fleet of aging reusable orbiters.

Endeavour commander Chris Ferguson said his crew was looking forward to celebrating the ISS’s 10th anniversary on Nov 20.

In a greeting ceremony between the two crews, he said he hoped Endeavour’s delivery would “make this place look a little nicer”.

Work will focus on preparing the space station for expansion and delivering items to make it a more comfortable place to live.

The 15-day mission will include four spacewalks to repair joints that allow the station’s solar panels to rotate toward the sun. Astronauts will also install a nitrogen tank, a global positioning system and a camera outside the ISS

The payload will be delivered in the reusable, Italian-built Leonardo module that will be transferred to the ISS using the shuttle’s robotic arm. Astronauts will later fill it with old equipment and scientific samples and bring it back to Earth aboard Endeavour.

Endeavour astronaut Sandra Magnus will stay behind as a member of the ISS crew while Greg Chamitoff will return to Earth with the rest of the crew after more than five months in space.

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