Space Shuttle Endeavour Docks at International Space Station
Endeavour launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8.56 a.m. local time on Monday after several weeks of delay due to a technical problem. It was the last scheduled launch of the spacecraft before its retirement, which it will spend at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
The crew members for space shuttle Endeavour‘s STS-134 mission are Commander Mark Kelly (Gifford’s husband), Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori. Vittori will be the last international astronaut to fly aboard a shuttle.
During their 16-day mission, Endeavour and its crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) and critical supplies to the space station, including two communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank and additional parts for the Dextre robot. AMS is a particle physics detector designed to search for various types of unusual matter.
The crew also will also transfer Endeavour‘s orbiter boom sensor system to the station, where it could assist spacewalkers as an extension for the station’s robotic arm.
During their first full day in space, which was Tuesday, the crew of Endeavour performed a standard scan of the space shuttle’s thermal protection system using the Orbiter Boom Sensor System which is attached to the end of Endeavour‘s robotic arm. They also checked out spacesuits and rendezvous tools in preparation for the docking on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the crew of Endeavour woke up to “Drops of Jupiter” by California rock band Train for Pilot Johnson. The song won the 2002 Grammy Rock Song of the Year and is a favorite of Johnson’s son Matt, whose birthday is on Thursday.
Hours later, at 6.14 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Commander Kelly backed Endeavour into pressurized mating adapter 2 on the ISS’ Harmony node. The two spacecraft were flying about 220 miles (354 kilometers) up above and east of Chile at the time they docked.
At 7:38 am EDT, about an hour ahead of schedule, the hatches between the ISS and Endeavour were opened. The crew of Endeavour and the ISS – 12 people in total – will be together until May 23, when space station crew members Dmitry Kondratyev, Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli undock and return home to Earth.
Before departing, Kondratyev will hand over command of the station to Andrey Borisenko. After the shuttle crew’s departure, Borisenko will remain on the station with Alexander Samokutyaev and Ron Garan as a trio until the remainder of the Expedition 28 crew arrives June 9.
After the docking events were completed, the Express Logistics Carrier-3 (ELC-3) was handed off from shuttle Endeavour‘s robotic arm to the ISS arm and attached to the left side of the station’s truss structure. ELC-3 holds spare hardware for future station use, including an ammonia tank, a high pressure gas tank, a cargo transport container, two S-band antenna assemblies and a spare arm for DEXTRE, the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator.
Station crew member Ron Garan is scheduled to go to sleep at 2.26 p.m. EDT, followed 30 minutes later by Endeavour‘s crew. The remaining station crew members go to sleep at about 5.30 p.m. EDT.
After Endeavour‘s current mission, space shuttle Atlantis will fly the last planned shuttle mission in June.