Shuttle Discovery zooms toward space station

Mar 17, 2009 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
The space shuttle Discovery and a seven member crew liftoff at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. on Sunday, March 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

(AP) -- With a kick of its rocket thrusters, space shuttle Discovery zoomed to the international space station Tuesday to deliver one last set of solar wings that should bring the orbiting complex to full power.

The 220-mile-high linkup was set to occur late in the afternoon.

As the pilots steered Discovery over its final 10-mile course, Mission Control informed the residents that visitors were nearby: "Looks like your company is heading straight to you now."

"Fantastic," replied Mike Fincke, the space station's skipper. "That's excellent news. We'll be ready for them."

Discovery and its of seven have been circling Earth, slowly catching up with the space station, since Sunday night's launch. They're bringing two solar wings to be installed later this week; the electricity-producing panels will join six others already in place.

The 115-foot wings are folded on a framework that also holds a radiator. Altogether, the $300 million segment is the last major American-made space station piece needed.

Discovery also is dropping off badly needed equipment for the space station's new water-recycling system - a spare urine processor and flush to kill bacteria. NASA would like to have the system working before the crew at the orbiting outpost jumps from three to six at the end of May.

The system is designed to convert astronauts' urine and condensation into drinking water. It arrived in November.

The space station also is getting a new crew member, Koichi Wakata, who will become the first Japanese to live there. When the hatches between the spacecraft are opened, he will trade places with Sandra Magnus, who has been on board since the last shuttle visit in November.

Discovery will spend eight days at the space station, and its crew will perform three spacewalks. That's two days and one less than originally planned. Shuttle launch delays cut the mission short, and Discovery needs to be gone so a Russian spacecraft can bring two fresh station crew members. That mission is set to begin late next week.

---

On the Net:

NASA: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: NASA's MMS observatories stacked for testing

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA shooting for Sunday shuttle Discovery launch

Mar 12, 2009

(AP) -- NASA is replacing some space shuttle connections in hopes of plugging a gas leak and launching Discovery to the international space station on Sunday, after delays of more than a month.

NASA fuels Discovery for flight to space station

Mar 11, 2009

(AP) -- NASA fueled space shuttle Discovery for a night flight to the international space station Wednesday, following a month's delay to make sure the ship's valves are just right.

NASA eyes debris as Discovery nears space station

Mar 16, 2009

(AP) -- NASA kept close tabs on an old piece of space junk Monday that threatened to come too close to the international space station as the shuttle Discovery raced toward the orbiting outpost for a 220-mile-high ...

Discovery Separates From Space Station

Aug 06, 2005

After more than a week of working together in space, the Space Shuttle Discovery and International Space Station crews bid each other farewell tonight. Space Shuttle Discovery undocked from the International Spa ...

Recommended for you

NASA's MMS observatories stacked for testing

34 minutes ago

(Phys.org) —Engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., accomplished another first. Using a large overhead crane, they mated two Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, observatories – ...

ISEE-3 comes to visit Earth

1 hour ago

(Phys.org) —It launched in 1978. It was the first satellite to study the constant flow of solar wind streaming toward Earth from a stable orbit point between our planet and the sun known as the Lagrangian ...

Testing immune cells on the International Space Station

16 hours ago

The human body is fine-tuned to Earth's gravity. A team headed by Professor Oliver Ullrich from the University of Zurich's Institute of Anatomy is now conducting an experiment on the International Space Station ...

Easter morning delivery for space station

21 hours ago

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Apr 19, 2014

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

NASA's MMS observatories stacked for testing

(Phys.org) —Engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., accomplished another first. Using a large overhead crane, they mated two Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, observatories – ...

ISEE-3 comes to visit Earth

(Phys.org) —It launched in 1978. It was the first satellite to study the constant flow of solar wind streaming toward Earth from a stable orbit point between our planet and the sun known as the Lagrangian ...

Easter morning delivery for space station

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.

Meth mouth menace

Something was up in Idaho. While visiting a friend in Athol, a small town north of Coeur d'Alene, Jennifer Towers, director of research affairs at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, noticed ...