Astronauts dock experiments at space station 'porch'
Canadian astronaut Julie Payette and her crew mates used two Canadian robotic arms to move a pallet of experiments from the shuttle Endeavour and place them next to the new "porch" of the International Space Station on Tuesday.
The pallet was successfully attached to the new Japanese Exposed Section of the Kibo laboratory at 10:36 a.m. ET, NASA reported.
That will allow the new Japanese Kibo robotic arm to transfer them Thursday to what NASA is calling the new "porch," which was installed on Saturday. The addition will let scientists expose their experiments directly to the extreme environment of space.
The shuttle Endeavour, which launched last Wednesday, carried both the porch and the temporary storage pallet up to the station.
The shuttle also brought with it Payette and six other astronauts, who joined the six astronauts already on the station, including fellow Canadian Bob Thirsk.
Payette, a mission specialist, and shuttle commander Mark Polansky operated the Endeavour's Canadarm, which lifted the pallet out of the shuttle bay and passed it off to the space station's Canadarm2 on Tuesday morning.
That robotic arm, operated by astronauts Koichi Wakata and Doug Hurley, attached the pallet to the porch as the station passed over Japan.
Payette then radioed the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency mission control team in Tsukuba, Japan, to let them know about the successful docking, NASA reported.
The astronauts are scheduled to take part in another spacewalk on Wednesday, and were to prepare for that Tuesday.
Japan's new Kibo robotic arm is scheduled to move three Japanese experiments from the pallet to the new porch on Thursday, then the pallet will be returned to the shuttle and brought back to Earth.
Future experiments will be moved to the platform from the inside of the station using the laboratory's airlock.
If all goes well, Endeavour will return to Earth and land on July 31 at 10:45 a.m. ET.