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Saturday, 8 December, 2001, 03:04 GMT
Shuttle docks with space station
Shuttle prior to docking AP
The shuttle will take the current ISS crew home
The space shuttle Endeavour has docked with the International Space Station, bringing a new three-member crew to the orbiting platform.

The shuttle has also transported equipment, food, supplies and materials for scientific experiments.

The previous crew - who arrived in August - will return to Earth aboard the orbiter in a week's time.

Shuttle and ISS about to join, AP
The shuttle and the ISS docked over Europe
The shuttle blasted off from Florida earlier in the week without incident.

To dock, Endeavour's commander, US Navy Captain Dominic Gorie, pulled the shuttle up directly into the station's line of travel as the two craft orbited over Europe and backed up until they were joined.

The docking took place at 0303 Florida time (2003 GMT) on Friday.

"We're ready to see you guys," station commander Frank Culbertson said.

Endeavour's main task is to drop off Expedition Four - Ukrainian-born commander Yuri Onufrienko and US astronauts Carl Walz and Daniel Bursch - who will man the ISS until May of next year.

During the mission, two shuttle astronauts will do a spacewalk to perform station maintenance.

The shuttle will then return the current platform crew - Expedition Three - to Earth.

No-fly zone

The launch, the first following 11 September, went ahead with unprecedented security in place.

A no-fly zone was established 35 miles (56 kilometres) around the launch pad and the six astronauts and one cosmonaut were escorted to the orbiter by guards with automatic rifles.

The launch was scheduled for last week but a jammed docking mechanism on the ISS and bad weather had forced a lengthy postponement.

Commander Culbertson and Russians Vladimir Dezhurov and Mikhail Turin were in space at the time of the 11 September attacks and photographed the smoke trail coming from the burning World Trade Center as they moved 200 miles (320 km) overhead.

The shuttle is carrying New York City police and fire department badges and patches, and flags from the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania.

Thousands of small American flags are also on board. These will be given to the families of those killed on 11 September and to the survivors of the attacks.

International Space Station

Analysis

Background

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