The shuttle docked with the International Space Station to continue work

The space shuttle Atlantis, sent into space for a scheduled 11-day mission, successfully docked with the International Space Station yesterday. Shuttle commander Brent Jett carefully maneuvered the shuttle so that it did a backflip designed to check the underside of the shuttle. Digital photographs of the underside were taken for NASA to make sure the heat shield is still secure. Shuttle engineers believe the thermal protection system is in such good shape that the opportunity for further tests was declined.

The orbital complex floating 218 miles above the Earth has not had serious construction done since the 2003 Columbia disaster. Steve MacLean became the second Canadian to walk in space today.

Astronauts yesterday conducted a spacewalk to wire two solar panels into the ISS. A second spacewalk today will be conducted to finish activating and double-checking the panels. The two spacewalks –yesterday and today – brought the total number of man hours spent assembling and maintaining the ISS to 431 hours and 54 minutes. For the second straight day, spacewalkers lost a bolt that NASA researchersbelieve harmlessly most likely floated away.

Because of the expected arrival of the Russian Soyuz space capsule on September 20, the Atlantis crew will have to continue to work quickly.

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