Home > Space Shuttle > Hatches Open, Crews Begin Joint Operations

Hatches Open, Crews Begin Joint Operations

ISS021-E-024311 -- Frank De Winne

Image above: Expedition 21 Commander Frank De Winne moves a High Definition Video (HDV) camera and equipment from the Kibo laboratory into the Harmony node of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

The Expedition 21 crew welcomed a new set of visitors aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday.

After a series of leak checks, the hatches between the two vehicles opened at 1:28 p.m. EST marking the start of joint operations. Space shuttle Atlantis docked with the station at 11:51 a.m.

Hatch opening also marked the end of Flight Engineer Nicole Stott’s two-and-a-half-month stint with the space station’s crew. She officially became a member of the STS-129 crew, and the station will be manned by a five-person crew until Dec. 1, when Commander Frank De Winne and Flight Engineers Roman Romanenko and Robert Thirsk will depart the station in their Soyuz vehicle.

The STS-129 mission will focus on storing spare hardware on the exterior of the station. The 11-day flight will include three spacewalks and the installation of two platforms to the station’s truss, or backbone. The platforms will hold spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttles are retired. This equipment is large and can only be transported using the unique capability of the shuttle.

For the latest news and information on the STS-129 mission, visit the main shuttle page.

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