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Discovery docks at ISS, joint operations begin

The Expedition 20 crew welcomes the STS-128 crew aboard the station shortly after hatch opening. -- Image credit: NASA TV

WASHINGTON (BNS): Space shuttle Discovery docked with the International Space Station at 8:54 p.m. EDT Saturday delivering more than seven tons of cargo and a new crew member to the International Space Station and its Expedition 20 crew.

The shuttle and station crews opened hatches at 9:33 p.m. and greeted one another beginning a week’s worth of joint operations that includes three spacewalks and transfer of 15,000 pounds of supplies and logistics to sustain the six-person crew on the station, NASA said on Monday.

Astronauts Nicole Stott and Tom Kopra swapped Soyuz seat liners after hatch opening. Stott will handle flight engineer duties aboard the station until her return home aboard Atlantis following the STS-129 mission in November. Kopra is scheduled to return aboard Discovery on September 10 after spending 57 days in space.

Before docking to the station, Commander Rick Sturckow and Pilot Kevin Ford performed a few final corrective jet firings to refine the orbiter’s path for a rendezvous pitch maneuver (RPM). While Sturckow performed the RPM, Expedition 20 Commander Gennady Padalka and
Flight Engineer Mike Barratt took photos from the station.

The photos will be reviewed by experts on the ground for evidence of any damage to the shuttle tiles, the US space agency said.

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