"Station, we see you have visitors. Tell them to give us a wave", said astronaut Pam Melroy, serving as CAPCOM for the space station.
The shuttle and space station docked this morning at 5:48 a.m. CDT to begin seven days of joint operations. Hatch opening between the two spacecraft occurred at 7:30 a.m. CDT with a joyful welcome of hugs and smiles.
Prior to docking, Commander Brent Jett flew Atlantis through an orbital back flip while stationed about 600 feet below the space station. The maneuver allowed the Expedition 13 crew to take a series of high-resolution photographs of the orbiter’s heat shield.
Following docking, Pilot Chris Ferguson and Mission Specialist Dan Burbank attached the shuttle's robotic arm to the 17.5-ton P3/P4 truss, lifted it from its berth in the payload bay, and maneuvered it for handover to the station's Canadarm2.
After hatch opening, Mission Specialist Steve MacLean and Expedition 13 Flight Engineer Jeff Williams then used the Canadarm2 to take the truss from the shuttle’s robotic arm. MacLean is the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm2 in space.
The day ended with a “campout,” but no marshmallows, in the Quest Airlock. Mission specialists Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper and Joe Tanner are sleeping in the airlock tonight to prepare for Tuesday’s spacewalk. The "campout" protocol will help rid the two of nitrogen in their bloodstreams and will shorten their final spacewalk preparations.
Piper and Tanner will work to connect power cables on the P3/P4 truss, release restraints for the Solar Array Blanket Boxes that hold the solar arrays and the Beta Gimbal Assemblies that serve as the structural link between the truss’ integrated electronics and the Solar Array Wings. Piper and Tanner will also install the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint and complete the connection of electrical cables between the new P3 truss and the P1 truss.
The station crew is scheduled for sleep at 2:45 p.m. and the shuttle crew 30 minutes later.