By Irene Klotz
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Space shuttle
Endeavour reached the International Space Station on Wednesday
to deliver a premiere science instrument and spare parts during
NASA's next-to-last shuttle mission.
The two-day trip to the orbital outpost ended at 6:14 a.m.
EDT as the shuttle and stationed soared 220 miles
northeast of Chile.
Commander Mark Kelly gently pulsed his ship's steering jets
to inch Endeavour onto a docking port on the station's Harmony
module. After making sure the seals between the two ships are
tight, Kelly and his five crewmates will board the station to
begin a planned 12-day joint mission.
Endeavour blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center on its
25th and final flight. NASA plans one last cargo run to the
station in July aboard shuttle Atlantis to close out the
30-year-old shuttle program.
The shuttles are being retired due to high operating costs
and to free up funds to develop new ships that can travel
beyond the station's orbit.
Endeavour carries the $2 billion Alpha Magnetic
Spectrometer particle detector, designed to analyze cosmic rays
for signs of dark matter, antimatter and other exotic phenomena
that cannot be detected by ordinary telescopes. The instrument,
a multinational project of 600 physicists, will be attached to
he outside of the station on Thursday.
Endeavour also is delivering a pallet of spare parts to
tide over the station after the shuttles are retired.
Once Endeavour's cargo is installed on the station, the
crew will turn its attention to four planned spacewalks and
The shuttle is due back at the Kennedy Space Center in
Florida on June 1.
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