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Shuttle launch
"Making history and building our future in space"
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Friday, 13 October, 2000, 18:46 GMT 19:46 UK
Shuttle docks with space complex
ISS AP
The ISS looms in front of the shuttle
The US space shuttle Discovery has docked with the International Space Station (ISS), ahead of a busy schedule of construction work.

Discovery, and its crew of six Americans and one Japanese, hooked up to the ISS nearly 380 km (240 miles) above the Russian-Ukrainian border.

This 100th space shuttle mission is carrying two new segments for the growing space complex: a girder-like truss and a docking port.

On Sunday, crew members will go outside the orbiter to attach the new sections.

Antenna malfunction

Friday's docking took place without the use of the main shuttle antenna, which started malfunctioning on Thursday.

Docking ring AFP
Discovery extends its docking ring as it prepares to dock
The dish-shaped antenna is normally used to beam television images to mission control. It doubles as a radar system during station approaches. Commander Brian Duffy relied on the shuttle's star-tracking system to close in on the space station.

As Discovery drew within 15 metres (50 feet) of the ISS, snapshots were sent down via a much slower shuttle antenna. A few grainy pictures were also beamed down from the space station.

"The loss of the TV is going to be an irritant and it's disappointing because it's fun to watch," said flight director Chuck Shaw. "But it has no impact on either safety or mission success."

Engineer to receive award

Discovery finally launched on Wednesday at the fifth attempt. Four launches were aborted due to bad weather and technical hitches.

A Nasa engineer who spotted a pin wedged against the shuttle's fuel tank prior to one failed launch is to get a medal for possibly saving the astronauts' lives.

Jorge Riviera said he was simply doing his job when he spied the 10-centimetre (4-inch) pin.

Rivera said "God only knows what could have happened" if he had not seen the pin and it had ricocheted into an engine at lift-off.

Further missions

One of the segments to be fitted by the Discovery crew is known as the Z-1 Truss. It carries gyroscopes that will help the ISS maintain its position in space. The other component is a connection node to allow future shuttle docking.

Discovery will return to Earth on 22 October. Eight days later, a three-man US-Russian crew, the first residents of the ISS, are due to blast off from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz rocket.

Expedition One, as it is called, will include US astronaut William Shepherd and the Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko. They will remain aboard the ISS until February 2001, when a US space shuttle will bring them back to Earth.

The 16-nation space station project is expected to be completed in 2006, but work in the ISS lab will continue until at least 2013.

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See also:

12 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
Shuttle begins landmark mission
09 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
Discovery is delayed by bad weather
20 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
Atlantis returns home
12 Jul 00 | Sci/Tech
Step forward for space station
08 Oct 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
100 missions and counting
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