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The BBC's Fiona Werge
"After a two day chase through space the shuttle Endeavour lines up to dock with the ISS"
 real 56k

Saturday, 21 April, 2001, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Endeavour docks with space station
Shuttle
Final approach was a delicate and slow operation
The US space shuttle Endeavour has docked with the International Space Station (ISS), in a mission to install a giant robotic arm that will help build and maintain the station.

The final approach was a tightly choreographed affair designed to produce no more than a gentle bump when the shuttle's docking probe touched the station's docking port.

The 'Big Arm'
Can lift the weight of an entire space shuttle
Each of its seven joints can rotate 270 degrees forward or backward
Will be used to attach an airlock to the ISS and fit solar power panels
Shuttle commander Kent Rominger inched his 100-ton spacecraft toward the $95 billion orbiting outpost as both circle the Earth at some five miles (8 km) per second.

Endeavour began its 11-day mission with a Thursday lift-off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Its main objective is installing the enormous, 58-foot robot arm needed to finish construction of the space station.

Advanced robotics

The arm is the most advanced robotic device ever sent into space. It is so long that it had to be folded to fit inside Endeavour's payload bay.

Rominger inched spacecraft toward orbiting outpost
Rominger inched spacecraft toward orbiting outpost
And it is so heavy - 3,618 pounds of aluminum, steel and graphite epoxy - that it could not support its own weight on Earth.

The shuttle arm will hoist it on Sunday and attach it to the orbiting laboratory.

Then spacewalking astronauts will unfold the new arm, bolt it together and wire it up.

International crew

Endeavour's seven-strong crew includes the first European Space Agency astronaut to visit the ISS, Italian astronaut Umberto Guidoni.

He joins four US colleagues, one Russian and one Canadian on the mission.

The robotic arm
Canadian-built robotic crane known as the Big Arm
Endeavour is also loaded with an Italian cargo carrier, named Raffaello after the 16th-century artist.

It will be the second of three Italian cargo carriers to be launched to the space station. Leonardo hauled up supplies last month.

This will be the first crew to visit the space station during the four-month term of Expedition Two crew members Yury Usachev, Susan Helms and James Voss, who arrived on 8 March.

The shuttle crew is bringing them a two-month supply of food, spare parts for a broken treadmill and computer pieces.

There are also a few luxuries, including Canadian salmon and Italian parmesan cheese as well as mail from home.

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See also:

19 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Endeavour lifts off with space crane
07 Feb 01 | Sci/Tech
Destiny lab lifts off
02 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Crew enters historic home
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