Rominger will then begin to descend toward the station and, at about 10:37 p.m. Central, hold position at a point about 170 feet away. Rominger will stationkeep at that distance for about 15 minutes to allow the station to move within range of Russian ground communications stations before continuing the approach. At 11:13 p.m., Rominger will again briefly hold position at a point about 30 feet from the station to ensure the Shuttle and station docking mechanisms are precisely aligned. Docking is expected about 11 minutes later with the Shuttle contacting the station at a slow rate of about a tenth of a foot per second.
During the rendezvous, Pilot Rick Husband will assist Rominger in controlling Discovery's approach. Mission Specialists Tammy Jernigan and Ellen Ochoa also will assist with the rendezvous and docking, with Jernigan operating the Shuttle's docking mechanism and Ochoa assisting with the rendezvous navigation.
After docking, Ochoa and Jernigan will perform a hatch leak check. Later, Mission Specialists Dan Barry, Jernigan and Canadian astronaut Julie Payette will prepare the middeck for Saturday's spacewalk. Discovery's crew will not open the hatch to the Unity module and enter the station until Sunday, a day after the spacewalk is completed.
Space station flight controllers planned to command the station into the orientation for docking - Unity toward space and the Zarya module toward Earth - at about 7 p.m. Central to prepare for Discovery's arrival.