Space shuttle Discovery closes in on ISS
Shuttle Discovery closed in on the international space station early Monday with a super-size delivery: a scientific lab that’s as big as a school bus. Discovery was also ferrying up the space station’s newest resident: astronaut Gregory Chamitoff, who will call the space station home for the next six months. He’ll replace Garrett Reisman, who will return to Earth aboard the shuttle.
The space shuttle and its seven astronauts are delivering the $1 billion lab on behalf of Japan. They’ll install the lab, with help from the space station’s three residents.The lab is named Kibo, Japanese for hope, and is 37 feet long and weighs more than 32,000 pounds.
Shuttle commander Mark Kelly and his crew also have a new pump for the space station’s malfunctioning toilet. The Russian-built toilet broke 1 1/2 weeks ago, and space officials hope this pump – from a different manufacturing batch than the spares on board – will get it working normally.
Before parking at the space station, Kelly was going to guide Discovery through a slow back flip so the station residents could photograph the shuttle’s underside. It’s one of the safety measures put in place by NASA after the 2003 Columbia accident to check for launch damage.