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Sunday, 10 September, 2000, 08:47 GMT 09:47 UK
Atlantis docks with space station
view from the Atlantis after docking the international space station on Sunday
Atlantis will dock with the space station for several days
The space shuttle Atlantis docked with the International Space Station (ISS) early on Sunday to enable its seven-member crew to deliver supplies and undertake vital maintenance work.

The space shuttle blasted off on Friday on an 11-day mission to turn the International Space Station (ISS) from a "house into a home".

This truly is an astronaut's dream mission

Atlantis Commander Terry Wilcutt
The spacecraft, piloted by commander Terrence Wilcutt, linked up with the station some 300 km (186 miles) over the Earth, directly above Kazakhstan.

Shortly before 0500 GMT Commander Wilcutt announced: "Houston we have capture."

Nasa had worried for days that rain might delay the mission. But the approaching storm slowed down and stayed far enough Offshore to allow the shuttle launch to proceed.

Space walk

The crew of five astronauts and two cosmonauts will prepare the ISS for its first long-stay inhabitants, due to arrive at the beginning of November.

They will spend a week transferring supplies to the Zvezda service module, the cornerstone of Russia's contribution to the ISS, which will serve as the early living quarters for the station.

Cosmonaut Boris Morukov
This will be cosmonaut Boris Morukov's (left) maiden space flight
"Have a nice trip. Make the station into a home," launch controller, George Gross, told the astronauts before lift-off.

"We intend to do just that," replied shuttle commander Terrence Wilcutt.

The team is carrying supplies which include life-support equipment, computer hardware, and the ISS's first toilet.

Commander Wilcutt had described the mission as one that would turn the ISS from a "house into a home".

"This truly is an astronaut's dream mission," he said.

Artists impression of ISS
The ISS now has a large living space
There will be a six-and-a-half-hour space walk during which astronaut Dr Ed Lu and cosmonaut Colonel Yuri Malenchenko will hook up electrical, communications and telemetry cables between Zvezda and the Zarya Control Module.

For the first time, Nasa is to adopt the Russian method of space walking, using a pair of tethers as rock climbers do - one line remains attached while they move to a new position and secure the other.

A Russian Progress resupply ship is docked to the rear of the station bringing the length of the structure to just under 45 metres (143 feet), about the height of a 13-storey building.

More missions

Nasa says there is roughly 250 cubic metres (8,800 cubic feet) of living space at the moment, about the same as comfortable apartment.

Atlantis's flight is expected to be the first of eight missions to the ISS over the next year.

"As the task grows and the details become more obvious we'll always have to add missions," said Commander Wilcutt.

Space shuttle Discovery will follow with the first piece of the space station's external framework.

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See also:

12 Jul 00 | Sci/Tech
Step forward for space station
27 Jan 00 | Sci/Tech
What future for the space station?
11 Jul 00 | Europe
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23 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Space station readied for crew
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