Forty minutes after docking, the crew of Discovery and the space stations Expedition 20 crew opened hatches and greeted each other. The joint crew of 13 will spend the next eight days egagaged in the transfer from the Discovery of seven tons of cargo and logistics to sustain the space station’s six-person crew.
The Discovery is also to deliver a second treadmill, named humorously the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT) after popular US satirist Stephen Colbert.
Prior to docking, Christer Fuglesang reported on the voyage on the rymdkanalen.se website. Everything felt easier this time, he said, almost three years on from his first journey into space.
“It’s great fun to just glide along and spin around in weightlessness. Even my visits to the toilet have been easier. Maybe both my head and my stomach are working better this time,” wrote Fuglesang.
Exercise is important for astronauts spending long periods of time in space, because zero-gravity can result in muscle atrophy.
Astronaut Nicole Stott is to take the place of American Tim Kopra, who will ride the shuttle back to Earth.
Also aboard the Discovery is a new freezer for the ISS, which will be used to store samples of blood, urine and other materials that will eventually be taken back for studies on the effects of zero-gravity.
The mission will include three scheduled spacewalks that will be taken up in part with the installation of a new liquid ammonia coolant tank.
The shuttle commander is veteran astronaut Rick Sturckow.
In addition to Stott and Fuglesang, his crew are pilot Kevin Ford and mission specialists Patrick Forrester, Jose Hernandez, and John Olivas.