Page last updated at 10:26 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 11:26 UK

Space shuttle Discovery docks with space station

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Discovery approaches and docks with the International Space Station

The space shuttle Discovery has successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS).

Mission Commander Alan Poindexter finished the eight-minute link-up manoeuvre 215 miles (344km) over the Caribbean, Nasa said.

The 13-day mission is one of the last before the shuttle programme ends later this year.

The crew had to dock without the use of radar, because of the failure of a communications antenna.

Nasa said that the crew had been trained to dock without radar and were able to use an "array of other navigation tools to precisely track the space station".

After docking at 0744 GMT, Commander Poindexter radioed: "Houston and station, capture confirmed."

Mum astronaut

The shuttle, which is carrying equipment and supplies for the ISS, blasted off on Monday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Its mission puts more women in orbit at one time than ever before.

On board Discovery are Nasa astronauts Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger and Stephanie Wilson and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki. They join Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson, who is already aboard the ISS.

Naoko Yamazaki is the second Japanese woman in space.

In Japan she is being called the "Mum Astronaut" , and her space flight has caused people back home to question the traditional roles of men and women .

Station repairs

Space shuttle Discovery
Discovery seen from the ISS as it prepares for docking

At 0911 GMT, the crews opened the shuttle and station hatches.

Discovery's seven-person crew then joined the six people aboard the space station to begin more than a week of work together.

The astronauts are due to carry out three spacewalks, to make repairs on the station and retrieve an experiment that was placed on the exterior of the Japanese laboratory, Kibo.

Discovery is also carrying an exercise machine to study the effects of weightlessness on the body's musculoskeletal system.



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