Amazing pictures show great RBAR Pitch Maneuver and Docking

by Chris Bergin

Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station have completed a space ballet at 200 miles up whilst travelling at 17,500 miles per hour this morning.

The RBAR Pitch Maneuver enabled the ISS’ two occupants to photograph Discovery’s Thermal Protection System for engineers on the ground to check for any damage to the heat resistant tiles. This was followed by a perfect docking proceedure with the ISS.

For the first time since November 25, 2002, the ISS welcomed an Orbiter for docking. Spectacular images on NASA TV showed the approach over New Zealand, before Discovery arrived below the ISS for the RBAR Pitch Maneuver.

Discovery performed the flip over in amazing fashion, as she exposed her under-belly to photography – which has been sent back to Earth for evaluation.

After the beautiful dance performed by the two 100 tonne space craft, Discovery closed in for docking with the ISS over South America.

With Commander Collins easing her in for docking, more amazing imagery was available for all to see – as the Orbiter performed Reaction Control System (RCS) firings and was caught by the sunlight lighting up parts of Discovery.

Docking was classed by ground controllers as a perfect Maneuver by Collins and Discovery. Hard Dock was achieved at around 12:30pm UK time – with a 90 minute process to gain pressurisation before the doors can be opened for both crews to greet each other.

Hatch opening occured slightly before 2pm UK time, with Commander Collins being the first member of Discovery to board the ISS.

More throughout the day.

Follow the images of the approach to the ISS for docking and the RBAR here – including the Discovery Crew boarding the ISS.:

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