Page last updated at 18:01 GMT, Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Shuttle docks with space station


Astronauts arrive in style as shuttle reaches the International Space Station

The space shuttle Atlantis has successfully docked with the International Space Station, according to Nasa officials.

The shuttle blasted off on Monday with six astronauts on an 11-day voyage to deliver new equipment to the station.

The docking was manually completed by commander Charlie Hobaugh.

The crew were welcomed by colleague Nicole Stott, who has spent nearly three months on the space station and will return to earth with Atlantis.

The mission is set to include three spacewalks to store hardware on the outside of the orbiting outpost.

These parts include pump modules, gas tanks, two control moment gyroscopes and components for the space station's robotic arm.

Atlantis is also carrying up to a million microscopic worms as part of an experiment to help scientists understand why human muscles waste away in zero gravity.

The all-male crew of Atlantis will spend the US Thanksgiving holiday in orbit.

They will return to Earth with a seventh crew member, Nicole Stott, who has been living at the space station for nearly three months.

But this will be the last such shuttle crew rotation before the fleet's retirement in 2010.

This mission will be the last shuttle mission for 2009.

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