The 8:40 a.m. EDT docking -- about 7 minutes later than scheduled -- was completed without incident after shuttle Cmdr. Pam Melroy and pilot George Zamka guided the shuttle through a maneuver that allowed the space station crew to digitally photograph the shuttle’s protective heat-resistant tiles to check for damage. The imagery was sent to engineers on Earth for analysis.
When the hatches between the shuttle and space station were opened about 10:39 a.m. EDT, the event marked the first time two spacecraft commanded by female astronauts were linked.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration controllers in Houston said one of the first major tasks was to involve station crew rotation. STS-120 astronaut Daniel Tani is switching places with Expedition 16 astronaut Clayton Anderson, who will end a four-month tour of duty and return with the STS-120 crew. Tani is to remain at the station until he returns to Earth with STS-122 later this year.
Preparations were to begin Thursday for the first of five STS-120 spacewalks, scheduled to start at 6:28 a.m. EDT Friday.