BY JUSTIN RAY
Follow space shuttle Endeavour's STS-127 mission to finish assembly of the International Space Station's Japanese segment. Reload this page for the latest updates.
Sign up to our Twitter feed and get text message updates on your cellphone. U.S. readers can also sign up from their phone by texting "follow spaceflightnow" to 40404. (Standard text messaging charges apply.)
SATURDAY, JULY 18, 2009The shuttle and station crews have called it a day and begun their sleep period. Wakeup time on Saturday morning to start Flight Day 4 is 7:03 a.m. EDT.
0308 GMT (11:08 p.m. EDT Fri.)
0125 GMT (9:25 p.m. EDT Fri.)A collection of video from Friday's rendezvous and docking is posted in our STS-127 archive.
You can learn more about Spaceflight Now+Plus and how to become a subscriber by clicking here.
0045 GMT (8:45 p.m. EDT Fri.)A 15-minute firing by Endeavour's steering jets has been completed. The maneuver boosted the shuttle-station stack by about 4,500 feet to ensure the complex would not pass too close to a piece of space junk.
FRIDAY, JULY 17, 2009While the analysis is not yet complete, a quick look at photographs shot during the shuttle Endeavour's dramatic pitch-around maneuver during final approach to the space station today show the orbiter's heat shield appears to be in good condition with no obvious signs of damage beyond two areas of coating loss spotted during launch Wednesday.
2305 GMT (7:05 p.m. EDT)
Read our full story.
2143 GMT (5:43 p.m. EDT)Shannon says checks of the next space shuttle external fuel tank will delay Discovery's move from its hangar to the Vehicle Assembly Building for attachment. Engineers want to test the adhesion of the foam insulation on the ribbed intertank region of the tank. Strips of foam peeled away from that area of Endeavour's tank during launch, prompting concerns about future flights.
Discovery's roll to the VAB, which had been targeted for Monday, will slip to next Friday. What impact these checks will have on the original August 18 launch date are not yet clear.
2139 GMT (5:39 p.m. EDT)Shuttle program manager John Shannon says inspection imagery has not uncovered any damage besides the the very minor scuffs on a few underside tiles that was seen in the external tank video.
The reinforced carbon-carbon panels on Endeavour's wing leading edges and nose cap have been cleared of any damage concerns.
2129 GMT (5:29 p.m. EDT)Endeavour's thrusters will be fired this evening to move the combined shuttle-station complex out of the path of space junk, CAPCOM Janice Voss just told commander Mark Polansky.
"We definitely will need to do a reboost. We are excepting about two-and-a-half feet per second posigrade and about 15 minutes reboost duration. We're expecting it in about three hours," Voss said from Houston.
Engineers on the ground had been studying trajectories throughout the day to determine if such a maneuver would be required.
2122 GMT (5:22 p.m. EDT)Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata just radioed Mission Control with news that he and Tim Kopra have officially exchanged places between the station and shuttle crews. Wakata launched to the station in March aboard shuttle Discovery and will return to Earth with the Endeavour astronauts in two weeks. He was the Japanese space agency's first long-duration crew member to live aboard the station.
Kopra is now a member of the space station's Expedition 20 crew. He will work on the station until the next shuttle mission.
2115 GMT (5:15 p.m. EDT)Manually flying the shuttle Endeavour from the aft flight deck, commander Mark Polansky guided the 120-ton orbiter to a gentle docking with the International Space Station today as the two spacecraft sailed 220 miles above northern Australia at five miles per second.
Read our full story.
1955 GMT (3:55 p.m. EDT)HATCHES OPEN. The hatchway between Endeavour and the space station was opened at 3:48 p.m. EDT, and now the seven shuttle astronauts are being welcomed aboard the outpost by the six-man Expedition 20 resident crew. This combined team of 13 astronauts from the two spacecraft is the largest ever aboard the space station at one time.
The Expedition 20 crew includes commander Gennady Padalka, NASA astronaut Michael Barratt, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, European astronaut Frank De Winne, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk.
Endeavour's crew is commander Mark Polansky, pilot Doug Hurley, flight engineer Julie Payette, spacewalkers Chris Cassidy, Tom Marshburn and Dave Wolf, and soon-to-be station astronaut Tim Kopra.
Later today, Kopra and Wakata will exchange positions. Kopra will move his things aboard the station and become a member of Expedition 20. Wakata will conclude his four-month mission as a station flight engineer and join the Endeavour crew for return to Earth on July 31.
1810 GMT (2:10 p.m. EDT)The docking ring has been retracted to firmly connect the shuttle to the space station. A series of leak checks between the docking ports are getting underway.
1747 GMT (1:47 p.m. EDT)CONTACT AND CAPTURE! Endeavour has arrived at the space station for its construction mission that will install an external science deck to complete Japan's Kibo facilities, pre-stage critical spare parts for the outpost and replace aging batteries in the power grid.
The relative motions of the shuttle and station will be allowed to damp out over the next few minutes by the spring-loaded docking system. Later, the hooks and latches will be closed to firmly join the two craft and Endeavour's Orbiter Docking System docking ring will be retracted to form a tight seal.
The opening of hatches between the station and shuttle is expected in about two hours. That will be followed by a welcoming ceremony and safety briefing.
1747 GMT (1:47 p.m. EDT)Docking will be occurring in orbital darkness near Australia.
1747 GMT (1:47 p.m. EDT)Inside five feet to go.
1746 GMT (1:46 p.m. EDT)Endeavour's thrusters are programmed to fire in a post-contact maneuver to force the two docking ports together. That procedure is being armed.
1744 GMT (1:44 p.m. EDT)Less than 20 feet separate the shuttle from the station.
1742 GMT (1:42 p.m. EDT)Endeavour is closing at about 0.1 feet per second.
1739 GMT (1:39 p.m. EDT)The alignment now looks good between docking ports on Endeavour and the space station. The final approach covering the last 30 feet to docking is beginning.
1739 GMT (1:39 p.m. EDT)The shuttle crew reports the alignment needed about one degree of yaw to be tweaked before continuing into docking.
1737 GMT (1:37 p.m. EDT)Now 34 feet left to go. Commander Mark Polansky is getting the shuttle's docking port aligned with the station.
1734 GMT (1:34 p.m. EDT)Inside 50 feet left to go.
1732 GMT (1:32 p.m. EDT)About 75 feet separate the shuttle and station.
1730 GMT (1:30 p.m. EDT)Now about 85 feet from docking.
1723 GMT (1:23 p.m. EDT)Endeavour is about 175 feet from the station as the shuttle approaches the docking port.
1718 GMT (1:18 p.m. EDT)Following flight director Paul Dye's poll of his team in Mission Control, the shuttle astronauts have been given a "go" for docking.
1717 GMT (1:17 p.m. EDT)The shuttle has reached a point directly in front of the station along the imaginary line called the velocity vector, or +V bar.
1710 GMT (1:10 p.m. EDT)Endeavour is marking the arc from the point beneath the station to a point in front of the complex to align with the docking port on the Harmony module. Docking is about 45 minutes away.
1704 GMT (1:04 p.m. EDT)The pitch maneuver has been completed. Endeavour is back in the orientation where it started, with the payload bay looking up at the station.
1701 GMT (1:01 p.m. EDT)The main engine nozzles of Endeavour are facing the station now as the shuttle points its tail upward.
1700 GMT (1:00 p.m. EDT)This 360-degree, nose-first pirouette by Endeavour gives the station crew about 100 seconds of quality photography time to snap detailed pictures of the orbiter's black tiles in the search for any launch impact damage.
1659 GMT (12:59 p.m. EDT)The formal photo-taking period has started for the Expedition 20 crew, now that the shuttle has rotated its underside in view of the station complex.
1658 GMT (12:58 p.m. EDT)Endeavour is nose-up facing the station as the two craft fly more than 200 miles above the Atlantic Ocean.
1656 GMT (12:56 p.m. EDT)The rendezvous pitch maneuver -- the 360-degree flip -- is beginning. The shuttle is the under the control of commander Mark Polansky, who is flying the ship from the aft flight deck.
As the shuttle's underside rotates into view, the station's crew will photograph Endeavour's belly with handheld digital cameras equipped with 400- and 800-millimeter lenses as part of post-launch inspections of the heat shield.
The 800mm images should provide one-inch resolution for examination of landing gear door and external tank umbilical door seals. The 400mm will yield three-inch resolution.
After completing the RPM maneuver, Endeavour will fly directly ahead of the space station with the shuttle's nose facing deep space and its cargo bay pointed at the lab complex. Then Polansky will guide the spacecraft to a docking with a pressurized mating adapter attached to the Harmony connecting module.
1653 GMT (12:53 p.m. EDT)Range now 650 feet.
1650 GMT (12:50 p.m. EDT)The shuttle is 700 feet below the station complex.
1649 GMT (12:49 p.m. EDT)The backflip is scheduled to start in a few minutes. Station flight engineer Mike Barratt says the crew is ready and "the bird looks beautiful."
1644 GMT (12:44 p.m. EDT)Now crossing the coast of South America.
1643 GMT (12:43 p.m. EDT)The spacecraft are flying 220 miles over the South Pacific.
1641 GMT (12:41 p.m. EDT)Endeavour is some 1,400 feet beneath the station now.
1640 GMT (12:40 p.m. EDT)Mission Control has given the shuttle crew a "go" for the backflip maneuver. The 360-degree flip should start in less than 15 minutes.
1630 GMT (12:30 p.m. EDT)Less than a mile separates the shuttle and station now.
1628 GMT (12:28 p.m. EDT)The shuttle crew has performed another of the available mid-course correction burns to tweak the flight path toward the International Space Station.
1619 GMT (12:19 p.m. EDT)Endeavour is some 10,000 feet away and continuing to close the gap toward the station. Docking remains scheduled for 1:55 p.m. EDT.
1611 GMT (12:11 p.m. EDT)Another of the mid-course correction burns has been completed by the shuttle to fine-tune its path to the station. Endeavour is about 16,000 feet below and behind the station.
1607 GMT (12:07 p.m. EDT)Communication loops to connect the crews aboard the shuttle and station have been established.
1605 GMT (12:05 p.m. EDT)Distance between the shuttle and the space station is 22,000 feet.
1538 GMT (11:38 a.m. EDT)Endeavour just completed one of the available mid-course correction burns during this approach to the station. The shuttle is about 8.5 miles away from the space station.
1518 GMT (11:18 a.m. EDT)The shuttle has performed the Terminal Initiation burn using the left-hand Orbital Maneuvering System engine. The 12-second firing changed the shuttle's speed by 9 feet per second.
This puts the shuttle on a trajectory to directly intercept the orbiting station over the next orbit and a half. This burn is the latest in a series of maneuvers performed by Endeavour during its two days of chasing the station since launch Wednesday.
Docking is anticipated at 1:55 p.m. EDT.
1430 GMT (10:30 a.m. EDT)The crew got into the official rendezvous timeline about two hours ago. They have completed a couple of engine firings to continue the orbital chase. The final phase of the two-day trek to the space station begins at 11:17 a.m. EDT with the Terminal Initiation maneuver.
1130 GMT (7:30 a.m. EDT)The Endeavour astronauts are closing in on the International Space Station today in the final stages of a rendezvous that began with liftoff Wednesday. Docking between the two spacecraft is scheduled for 1:55 p.m. EDT.
Read our morning story.
1105 GMT (7:05 a.m. EDT)"Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles was this morning's wakeup song to get Flight Day 3 underway. The tune was played for commander Mark Polansky, who will dock Endeavour to the International Space Station shortly before 2 p.m. EDT today.
0300 GMT (11:00 p.m. EDT Thurs.)The latest high definition video of the launch is available to Spaceflight Now+Plus customers. A full listing of video can be seen here.
Standard definition clips are posted in our video archive.
Learn more about Spaceflight Now+Plus and how to become a subscriber.
Read our earlier status center coverage.
The official embroidered patch for shuttle Endeavour's flight to finish building Japanese section of the space station.
The official embroidered patch for mission STS-125, the space shuttle's last planned service call to the Hubble Space Telescope, is available for purchase.
The official embroidered patch for the International Space Station Expedition 20 crew is now available from our stores.
The official embroidered patch for shuttle Discovery's flight to deliver equipment and research gear to the space station.