Shuttle Atlantis Chasing International Space Station After a flawless launch, the space shuttle is in orbit closing the gap with the space station. Three space-walks are planned over the 11-day mission to install solar panels on the ISS.
NPR logo Shuttle Atlantis Chasing International Space Station

Shuttle Atlantis Chasing International Space Station

The Space Shuttle Atlantis lifts off from launch pad 39A on its way to the International Space Station, June 8, 2007. Eliot J. Schechter hide caption

toggle caption
Eliot J. Schechter

The space shuttle Atlantis, fresh from a fiery and nearly flawless launch, was in hot pursuit of the International Space Station, but is not expected to catch the giant orbiting platform until Sunday.

The seven-person crew of Atlantis was closing the gap with the station by 920 miles every 90-minute orbit.

Atlantis was scheduled to be more than 86-hundred miles away from its destination. Atlantis was to dock with the space station tomorrow afternoon.

Some foam debris shook loose from the shuttle's external fuel tank after last night's liftoff. NASA officials don't think Atlantis was damaged but will be checking today to make sure.

During the scheduled 11-day flight, the astronauts will deliver a new segment and a pair of solar panels to the orbiting outpost. They plan three spacewalks - on Monday, Wednesday and Friday - to install the new equipment and retract an old solar panel.

From The Associated Press

Related NPR Stories