Discovery Commander Eileen Collins and Pilot Jim Kelly flew Discovery through the rendezvous pitch maneuver about 600 feet below the Station about an hour before docking. The photos taken by Station Commander Sergei Krikalev and NASA Science Officer John Phillips were transmitted to the ground before docking occurred at 6:18 a.m. CDT.
Discovery, the first Shuttle to visit the Station since late 2002, and the orbiting laboratory linked up over the southern Pacific Ocean west of the South American coast. The photos from Discovery's approach and many others from ground, aircraft and Shuttle and Station cameras are being carefully analyzed by a team of about 200 people to ensure Discovery's thermal protection system is safe for re-entry.
After the initial hugs and handshakes Krikalev gave a safety briefing for the new arrivals, Collins, Kelly and Mission Specialists Soichi Noguchi of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, Steve Robinson, Andy Thomas, Wendy Lawrence and Charlie Camarda.
Among early tasks for the joint crews was preparation for additional robotic arm surveys of the orbiter. Tomorrow's schedule includes time for additional focused inspections.
Kelly and Lawrence, with help from Phillips, used the Station's Canadarm2 to lift the Orbiter Boom Sensor System from Discovery and hand it to the Shuttle arm. Camarda and Thomas steered the Shuttle arm, which cannot grasp the boom directly with the Station in the way.
Robinson and Noguchi, who will make three spacewalks at the Station, spent about an hour and a half getting equipment ready.
Tasks on the spacewalks Saturday, Monday and Tuesday include testing thermal protection system repair techniques, replacement of one of four Station control gyros (which control the orbiting laboratory's orientation in space) and restoration of power to another. The spacewalkers also will install an external spare parts carrier on the outside of the Station's Quest airlock.
Crewmembers were briefed on the loss of a piece of foam insulation from the external tank shortly after launch. The foam, seen by a camera on the tank making the first Shuttle flight in that position, did not appear to touch the orbiter. Shuttle managers determined that the cause of the foam loss needs to be understood and the problem fixed before Shuttle launches can resume.
Discovery and Station crewmembers began scheduled sleep periods about 2:40 p.m. CDT.