Spaceflight Now: Mission Report

STS-97/ISS Docking Timeline
Posted: December 1, 2000

Unlike previous shuttle dockings with the space station, Endeavour's crew will approach from directly below, a rendezvous procedure similar to one used during shuttle linkups to the Mir space station. For visualization purposes, the station's direction of motion is called the velocity vector, or V-bar for short. By convention, points in front of the station are said to be on the positive V-bar while points behind are considered negative.

The imaginary line connecting the station with the center of the Earth is called the radius vector, or R-bar. Points directly below the station along this line are considered positive while points above are considered negative.

Endeavour, then, will approach the station along the plus R-bar. The station will be oriented with its long axis aligned with the velocity vector, with the Unity module in "front" and Zvezda behind. Unity's nadir and zenith ports will be oriented as their names imply. This orientation, or attitude, is known as "XVV," i.e., the station's X axis is aligned with the velocity vector.

The terminal rendezvous sequence will begin with a rocket firing (TI) as Endeavour trails the station by about eight nautical miles. Once the shuttle reaches the plus R-bar, commander Brent Jett will guide the ship up from directly below. As he nears the station, he will yaw the shuttle 180 degrees so its tail is pointing in the direction of motion and its nose toward the minus V-bar.

Assuming a good linkup, the shuttle will begin controlling the station's orientation for the duration of Endeavour's mission, moving the lab back into an "X-POP" attitude with the station's X axis perpendicular to the plane of its orbit. In this orientation, the long axis of the station is broadside to the velocity vector.

Download a PDF version of this chart.

At a Glance
Mission 1: ISS-2R
Vehicle: Soyuz
Crew: Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev
Launch date: Oct. 31, 2000
Launch time: 0753 GMT (2:53 a.m. EST)
Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Return vehicle: Shuttle Discovery (STS-102)
Landing date: March 11, 2001
Landing site: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Mission 2: ISS-4A (STS-97)
Vehicle: Shuttle Endeavour
Crew: Jett, Bloomfield, Tanner, Garneau, Noriega
Launch date: Nov. 30, 2000
Launch time: 10:06 p.m. EST (0306 GMT on 1st)
Launch site: LC-39B, KSC
Landing date: Dec. 11, 2000
Landing time: 6:04 p.m. EST (2304 GMT)
Landing site: SLF, KSC



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