Discovery Completes Tricky Docking Maneuver
Loss of space shuttle's Ku-Band antenna system upon takeoff forces Commander Alan G. Poindexter to complete a tricky predocking, nose-over-tail 360-degree maneuver.
Discovery Commander Alan G. Poindexter completed a tricky, nose-over-tail
360-degree maneuver just before docking with the International Space Station
early April 7. The maneuver was necessary, since Discovery's Ku-Band antenna
system was knocked out upon takeoff April 5.
Earlier in the flight, the Discovery crew attempted once again to activate the shuttle's Ku-Band antenna to no avail. The loss of the high-data-rate television and radar capability was no issue for the rendezvous and docking activities. All shuttle crews train for just such a contingency.
All imagery gathered as Discovery approached the station along with that collected Monday and Tuesday will be downloaded to Mission Control for analysis via the station's Ku-Band system to ensure the shuttle's heat shield is safe for re-entry April 18.
At 5:11 a.m. EDT, the crews opened shuttle and station hatches. Discovery's seven-person crew joined the six-person space station crew, beginning more than a week of work together.
Four women are aboard the same spacecraft for the first time as Discovery Mission Specialists Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger and Stephanie Wilson and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki join Expedition 23 Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson. Yamazaki and Expedition 23 Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi are the first JAXA astronauts to fly in space at the same time.