Status Report

Discovery Docks With Space Station

By SpaceRef Editor
December 11, 2006
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Discovery Docks With Space Station

Space Shuttle Discovery’s arrival this afternoon sets the stage for a change aboard the International Space Station. Discovery, which docked at 5:12 p.m. EST, delivered a new crew member to the station.

The STS-116 crew and NASA Astronaut Sunita Williams, who will join the Expedition 14 crew later this evening, entered the station for the first time at 6:54 p.m. EST. Williams will replace European Space Agency Astronaut Thomas Reiter, who will return to Earth with the STS-116 crew. The crew rotation will be official when their custom-made seatliners are swapped out in the Soyuz spacecraft docked to the station.

STS-116 also delivered the P5 integrated truss structure to the station. The P5 will be attached to the end of the P4 to set the stage for the addition of the P6. Three spacewalks are scheduled during STS-116’s stay to install the P5 and to reconfigure and redistribute power generated by the station’s newest solar arrays.

About an hour before docking, STS-116 Commander Mark Polansky guided Discovery through a back-flip maneuver to allow the station’s Expedition 14 crew to take pictures of Discovery’s heat shield. The images will be downlinked to the ground for analysis by shuttle engineers.

The Expedition 14 and STS-116 crews will conduct a week of joint operations. In addition to the spacewalks, they will transfer cargo between the vehicles. Discovery and its crew are scheduled to stay at the station until Dec. 18.

NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency have named two astronauts and two cosmonauts to the next International Space Station crew, known as Expedition 15. Astronauts Clayton Anderson and Daniel Tani will travel to the station next year and work as flight engineers. Cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin and Dr. Oleg Kotov will spend six months aboard the orbiting laboratory.

SpaceRef staff editor.