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STS-131: Docking Day

Flight Day 3 will see Discovery link up with the International Space Station. Docking is scheduled for 3:44AM EDT early Wednesday morning. The failure of the Ku-band antenna shortly after launch Monday means that the crew won't have their normal radar working, but they have backup procedures, and have trained for this contingency. NASA reports:

Docking Day for Discovery and STS-131 Crew

STS131-S-036 -- Space shuttle Discovery lifts off
Image above: Space shuttle Discovery lifts off. Image credit: NASA

› Meet the STS-131 Crew

The seven member crew of Discovery is just hours from joining the Expedition 23 crew aboard the International Space Station as they work toward an early Wednesday morning docking with the outpost.

Commander Alan G. Poindexter and Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. will fire shuttle jets to refine the orbiter’s approach to the station. Mission Specialists Stephanie Wilson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenberger, Clayton Anderson, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Naoko Yamazaki will support them on the flight deck. The crew will be docking the shuttle without radar because of the Ku-Band antenna failure. They are trained to rendezvous and dock without radar.

After Discovery arrives at a point 600 feet directly below the station, Poindexter will command the shuttle to slowly rotate so that its underside is facing the station, and Expedition 23 Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi will photo-document the shuttle’s heat shield tiles. That imagery will be added to the video taken on flight day 2 and sent to the ground for study by specialists looking for any damaged tiles.

Once leak checks are completed, the hatches between the vehicles are scheduled to be opened to begin joint operations. With their arrival at the station, it will be the first time since launch that the crew of Discovery can be seen by NASA television viewers.

Live chat/video at SpaceVidCast. Live video at SFN and Florida Today. Discussion at Nasaspaceflight. Pics and video at KSC. More clips at Space Multimedia. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

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