Atlantis Arrives at Space Station


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STS-115 Commander Brent Jett guided Space Shuttle Atlantis to a smooth docking with International Space Station at 6:48 a.m. EDT today. Atlantis' arrival marks the resumption of the construction of the station.

Inside Atlantis' payload bay is the P3/P4 truss and a new set of solar arrays for the station. After the truss is attached to the station, the crew will conduct three spacewalks to outfit and prepare the truss and arrays for operation. STS-115 is the first station assembly mission since STS-113 in late 2002.

The STS-115 astronauts will enter the station for the first time about 7:50 a.m., where they will be greeted by the Expedition 13 crew. The two crews will quickly begin preparations for Tuesday's installation of the truss and the first spacewalk. The crews will use the shuttle robotic arm to hand off the truss to the station arm at about 10:42 a.m.

Mission Specialists Joe Tanner and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper are scheduled to begin a new pre-spacewalk procedure called "camping out" when they enter the station's Quest Airlock at about 2 p.m. They will stay in the Airlock until they start the mission's first spacewalk Tuesday morning.

"Camping out" helps the spacewalkers to begin the spacewalk earlier by reducing the amount of time typically required for the pre-breathe exercise and some spacewalk preparations.

Before docking, Commander Brent Jett and Pilot Chris Ferguson commanded Atlantis to do a back flip maneuver, which allowed the Expedition 13 crew to photograph Atlantis' heat shield. Those pictures will be downlinked to engineers on the ground for analysis.

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