US shuttle Discovery arrives at space station

Washington, Aug 31 (Xinhua) US space shuttle Discovery arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) Sunday night after nearly two days of journey.

Using space shuttle Discovery’s reaction control system jets, Commander Rick Sturckow steered the shuttle to a soft docking with the ISS at 8.54 p.m. (0054 GMT Monday), NASA said.

A NASA TV commentator said the soft docking was “smooth-as-silk”.

“Both vehicles at free drift, all thrusts disabled,” he added.

The crews will open hatches between the two spacecraft at 10.59 p.m. (0259 GMT Monday)

About 30 minutes later, Discovery mission specialist Nicole Stott and station Flight Engineer Tim Kopra will exchange Soyuz seat liners and titles, as Stott becomes a station flight engineer and Kopra a shuttle mission specialist.

Discovery took off midnight Friday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida after two delays.

It will spend more than a week at the orbiting complex. The astronauts will perform three spacewalks to replace an ammonia tank and perform other outside maintenance.