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Shuttle Docks With Station as Construction Project Looms

April 11, 2002|From Reuters

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The space shuttle Atlantis docked at the International Space Station Wednesday, its seven-member crew prepared to resume major construction on the U.S. side of the orbiting outpost for the first time in nearly a year.

For the three men already living on the station, these were their first visitors since an earlier shuttle crew left them behind in mid-December, 117 days ago.

"It's great to see these guys. They look wonderful and the station looks like it's in great shape," shuttle commander Mike Bloomfield told Mission Control after entering the orbiting laboratory.

The combined crew of 10 astronauts will spend a week together in joint operations, installing a new truss segment on the station, 44 feet of what eventually will become a 360-foot span holding an acre of solar panels to power future laboratories.

Nine of the astronauts are American and one, station commander Yury Onufrienko, is Russian.

Atlantis astronaut Jerry Ross was the first to report sighting the international station, the largest spacecraft ever to fly, from about 50 miles away.

"ISS is in view," said Ross, a spacewalker on the Atlantis crew who set a human spaceflight record Monday with his seventh launch into space.

It took nearly two days for Atlantis to catch up with the station after launching from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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