Spaceflight Now STS-111

Endeavour arrives at the International Space Station
Posted: June 7, 2002

The shuttle Endeavour gently docked with the international space station today as the two spacecraft sailed along a southeasterly trajectory over the Pacific Ocean approaching New Zealand.

The primary goal of Endeavour's mission is to deliver a fresh crew to the international space station - Expedition 5 commander Valeri Korzun, Peggy Whitson and Sergei Treschev - and to bring the lab's current occupants - Expedition 4 commander Yuri Onufrienko, Daniel Bursch and Carl Walz - back to Earth after 194 days in space. That will set a new U.S. space endurance record, beating the old mark of 188 days set by astronaut Shannon Lucid in 1996 aboard the Russian Mir space station.

View from the station of Endeavour during approach to the station. Photo: NASA TV/Spaceflight Now
After reaching a point 600 feet or so directly below the international space station, commander Kenneth Cockrell, flying the shuttle manually, guided the shuttle through a quarter loop to a point 310 feet directly in front of the lab complex.

"We're about, oh just a couple or three miles behind you," Cockrell radioed the lab a few minutes past 11 a.m. "Got a real nice view of you."

"Well super, yeah, we're just swinging around our cameras, too," replied station astronaut Carl Walz. "We had a tally ho a while back and we're looking forward to you guys docking."

Cockrell then told the station crew he would check back in after a few course correction rocket firings.

"We have a couple of little burn thingies here and we'll be back with you shortly."

"OK, good luck with the burn thingies," called station astronaut Daniel Bursch.

The first live television from the station showing the shuttle approaching the station from behind and below against the cloud-speckled backdrop of the southern Pacific Ocean, appeared at 11:10 a.m.

"Endeavour, arriving," called station engineer and Navy Capt. Daniel Bursch, ringing a ship's bell aboard the lab complex as Endeavour closed in. Flying the shuttle manually from Endeavour's aft flight deck, Cockrell then guided the spaceplane to a tenth-of-a-foot-per-second linkup at 12:25 p.m.

A final hatch between the shuttle and station was cranked open at 3:08 p.m. today, allowing the shuttle astronauts to float into the U.S. Destiny laboratory module where Expedition 4 crew were waiting to welcome them aboard.

Hatch opening came about 50 minutes behind schedule because it took longer than expected for docking-induced oscillations to damp out and for an additional cycling of the shuttle's docking collar. But lead flight director Paul Hill said there were no technical problems of any significance and that controllers were just taking a bit of extra time to make sure a very slight misalignment had been corrected before latches locked the two spacecraft together.

The delay did, however, preclude live television coverage of the hatch opening and the astronauts were asked to videotape their entrance into the station for later downlink to mission control. As it was, hatch opening and a brief "welcome aboard" ceremony took place while the station was out of direct contact with mission control. Viewers were, however, able to see the astronauts floating back and forth between the shuttle and the station a few minutes later, already busy moving supplies and equipment into the lab complex.

The astronauts and cosmonauts appeared to be in good spirits, with plenty of smiles to go around. During a brief chat with family members in Moscow, incoming Expedition 5's Korzun and Treschev said they were glad to be aboard the station, thanking shuttle commander Cockrell and his crewmates for a smooth docking.

This evening, engineers were assessing an apparent problem with the shuttle Endeavour's flash evaporator cooling system. Two independent controllers (with slightly different capabilities) can be used to operate the flash evaporator system, but one of them - FES primary B - appears to have failed. The primary A controller seems to be working normally, as is a secondary controller with limited capabilities.

The FES is used during certain phases of ascent and entry to reject heat generated by the shuttle's electrical systems. It also can be used to get rid of excess water generated by the shuttle's electrical generators.

This problem will have no immediate impact on Endeavour's mission to the international space station. But re-entry procedures likely will be modified slightly because of the primary B controller failure.

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