STS-131: Discovery Docks To ISS

Space Shuttle Discovery has docked to the International Space Station just two days after its glorious pre-dawn launch on Easter Monday. With Commander Alan Poindexter at the controls, the docking took place at at 3:44am EDT over the Caribbean Sea.

Time-lapse of Discovery's Monday launch

As soon as the crews perform leak checks on both sides vehicles the hatches well be opened and docked operations will begin pretty much straight away. The standard procedure is for the station commander to give this visiting crew a safety briefing and a brief tour of the orbiting platform, although the crews are so familiar with the station having trained in simulators and mockups for years that it is more of a courtesy than a necessary procedure.

The first order of business is to get the robotics operations underway so that the Shuttle's cargo, the  Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, or MPLM, can be removed from the cargo bay and installed on the station for the duration of the mission. The MPLM is loaded with science racks and supplies and has flown to the station 5 times before.

After the launch there was a minor debris incident noted on the ascent imagery where a piece of thermal tile was seen to fall off from the Shuttle's tail section, but so far mission managers have not expressed concern for the Shuttle to reenter at the end of the mission.

Keep an eye on Spacers for updates as the mission progresses.

Image credit: NASA/Ben Cooper
Digg this