Discovery Docks With Space Station To Begin Its Mission

by Wesley Roberts on March 18, 2009

NASA gave word yesterday that the Space Shuttle Discovery successfully docked with the International Space Station at 5:20PM EDT on Tuesday. The Shuttle is delivering the final truss segment for the ISS and a pair of solar array. The Shuttle is also providing a new crew member to take up residence aboard the growing outpost.

At 6:09PM, the Shuttle and Station crews opened the hatches and greeted one another to being more than a week of joint operations between the two crews. One of the first major tasks of the crews was to swap station crew member Sandra Magnus for Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata. The official swap occurred when a specially fitted seat liner was installed in the Soyuz crew vehicle. That swap at 9 p.m. signified the official designation change making Wakata an Expedition 18 flight engineer and Magnus a shuttle mission specialist.

Discovery is also carrying onboard a replacement distillation assemble for the new water recycling system aboard the ISS. he unit is part of the Urine Processing Assembly that removes impurities from urine in an early stage of the recycling process. The Water Recovery System was delivered and installed during the STS-126 mission in November, but the unit failed after Endeavor’s departure.

Prime business for the crews Wednesday will be to lift the truss segment out of Discovery’s payload bay with the shuttle robot arm and hand it off to the stations mechanical arm for an overnight stay before Thursdays permanent installation on the station.