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Space Shuttle Docks with Space Station

10 August 2007

The U.S. Space Shuttle Endeavour has successfully docked with the International Space Station.

The U.S. space agency, NASA, confirmed Endeavour connected with the space station Friday while orbiting over the South Pacific at 18:02 UT. The two spacecraft will be linked for the next seven to 10 days.

Shortly before docking, the shuttle performed a tricky backflip maneuver to let the Space Station crew photograph the heat shield on Endeavour's underbelly. Flight managers on Earth will examine the images for any possible damage that may have occurred during Wednesday's launch.

NASA officials say three small pieces of insulating foam from the shuttle's external fuel tank appeared to have struck the spacecraft during lift-off. But managers say they do not believe there is any critical damage.

NASA says the first of the mission's four anticipated space walks is scheduled for Saturday.

This is Endeavour's first mission since November 2002.

The shuttle's planned 11-day mission includes delivering a support beam to the space station, and attaching a replacement gyroscope.

The shuttle mission is the first for 55-year-old school teacher-turned-astronaut, Barbara Morgan, who NASA says will create a "classroom in space."

Morgan was a backup astronaut for teacher Christa McAuliffe, who was killed along with six other astronauts in the 1986 Shuttle Challenger disaster. McAuliffe won the slot for the Challenger mission in a NASA program to put a teacher in space.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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