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Space Station, Shuttle Crews Meet 

By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer 

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - The crew of space station Alpha finally welcomed 
space shuttle Endeavour's astronauts aboard on Friday, after six days of 
flying in locked formation.

The commanders of the two spacecraft, both Navy officers, followed the 
etiquette of the high seas.

``The crew requests permission to come aboard,'' shuttle skipper Brent Jett 
Jr. called out as soon as the space station hatch swung open.

``Permission granted,'' replied station skipper Bill Shepherd.

As Jett floated inside followed by his crew, Shepherd rang a ship's bell and 
announced in a singsong voice: ``Endeavour, arriving.''

It was a jumble of blue and red as the two crews hugged, shook hands and 
slapped each other on the back. The three space station crewmen wore blue 
athletic suits; the five shuttle men were in red golf shirts and blue pants.

Endeavour's astronauts were the first visitors Shepherd and Russian 
cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev have had since they moved into 
the international space station on Nov. 2.

Shepherd commended the Endeavour crew for installing and then fixing a giant 
set of electricity-generating solar wings on the space station.

``I can't think of a mission that we've flown in a long time that's been a 
bigger challenge,'' he said.

The glittering solar wings, stretching 240 feet from tip to tip, were already 
generating more than 40 kilowatts of electricity. On Thursday, two Endeavour 
spacewalkers had to tighten the right wing, which was too slack when it was 
unfurled four days earlier.

The hatches between Endeavour and Alpha could not be opened until that third 
and final spacewalk, because the shuttle's cabin pressure had to be kept 
lower than normal for the spacewalkers.

The two crews have just 25 hours together before the hatches are sealed back 
up. Endeavour is due to pull away on Saturday and return to Earth on Monday.

Shepherd and his crew have at least three more months aboard Alpha.

The hardest part of space station life, Shepherd said Friday, is being away 
from home, family and friends. Endeavour's astronauts brought him a letter 
from his wife, Beth.

What he misses most, aside from his family, is his yellow Labrador retriever, 
Jake. He doesn't miss the nonstop election news.

``We get pretty good coverage of the news of the day through Houston, and 
we've been keeping track of it,'' Shepherd told reporters. ``But I'm glad I'm 
kind of out of it.''

Back on Earth, meanwhile, NASA (news - web sites) reported that during 
Endeavour's Nov. 30 launch, an explosive device for separating the left 
solid-fuel booster from the shuttle apparently did not work. The malfunction 
did not affect the shuttle's flight because a backup charge did its job, and 
the booster dropped away two minutes into the flight as planned.

``The system is redundant, it's redundantly designed for that very reason,'' 
said flight director Bill Reeves. ``We don't need to 'what-if' to the 
catastrophic failure. We have enough redundancy in the system to where that's 
not an option.''



Friday December 8 8:21 PM ET

US Space Shuttle Endeavour Astronaughts Board the Space Station 

By Brad Liston

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Hatches separating the International Space 
Station from the shuttle Endeavour swung open on Friday, and for the first 
time in the two-year history of the space station, crewmen on either side 
greeted one another.

American Bill Shepherd, commander of the Expedition One team, and crew mates 
Yuri Gidzeno and Sergei Krikalyov, both Russians, have been aboard the 
station for about five weeks.

The five-man Endeavour crew, led by shuttle commander Brent Jett, has been 
docked to the station for six days. But the hatches remained closed as a 
safety measure while two Endeavour crewmen, Carlos Noriega and Joe Tanner, 
made three spacewalks to install massive solar-power ``wings'' to the station.

Shepherd and Jett are U.S. Navy officers, and they observed some Navy 
formalities not often used in space.

``The crew requests permission to come aboard,'' Jett said as he waited 

``Permission granted,'' Shepherd said.

As the first commander of the International Space Station, which under his 
direction uses the radio sign Alpha, Shepherd has hoped to institute some of 
the traditions he has brought with him from the Navy, where he is a captain 
and worked as a Navy SEAL before joining the astronaut corps.

Whether those traditions will last remains to be seen, since the next station 
commander, due to arrive in February, will be a Russian civilian, Yuri 

As the two crews greeted one another at 9:36 a.m. EST, the station's Unity 
module was awash in smiles, hugs and handshakes.

Shepherd congratulated Endeavour's crew on their success installing the solar 
array, which unfurled spans 240 feet tip-to-tip, longer than the rest of 
13-story station.

``I can't think of a mission that we've flown for a long time that's been a 
bigger challenge. It's been awesome,'' said Shepherd.

After that, the Alpha crew made its way to the shuttle flight deck for a 
better view of the enormous wings, the largest ever flown in space.

In an orbital press conference involving both crews, Shepherd talked of 
missing his family and dog, but seemed otherwise satisfied with his team's 

Shepherd's choice as the first commander of the ISS was somewhat 
controversial in Russia -- one veteran cosmonaut even refused to serve with 
him -- because his experience in space was limited to short-duration shuttle 

His two crewmates have long-duration experience aboard the Russian Mir 
station. Krikalyov alone had spent more than a year in space before arriving 
at the ISS.

``I think we're trying to feel out way through it,'' Shepherd said. ``I'm 
very conscious of trying to be even-handed about what's the right way to do 

Krikalyov and Gidzenko were quick to voice their support of the operation.

``My opinion is it's going very well,'' Krikalyov said. ``It's a small crew. 
We are working as a team. If someone has a problem we are all together going 
to try to help.''

With Canadian Space Agency (news - web sites) astronaut Marc Garneau on the 
Endeavour crew, three of the five international partners in the $60 billion 
venture were represented in the first-of-its kind meeting. The remaining 
partners are the European Space Agency and Japan.

The combined crews will have about a day together before the hatches close 
again and Endeavour prepares to return to Earth. Some supplies brought up on 
the shuttle, including water, food and hardware, will be transferred to the 

On Saturday Endeavour pilot Michael Bloomfield will ease the shuttle away 
from the station, then fly a loop around it so Mission Control can have a 
good look at the exterior, then a set a course for home.

NASA (news - web sites) reported that a problem occurred during Endeavour's 
launch Nov. 30 when an explosive charge used the separate the twin solid-fuel 
booster rockets on either side of the shuttle failed to ignite. A redundant 
charge did fire, and the booster fell away, as it was supposed to. If a 
booster ever did fail to separate, that glitch could lead to a risky abort 

Lead flight director Bill Reeves said there would be an investigation, but 
did not seem alarmed by the news.

``The redundant system did perform its job. We take it in stride,'' Reeves 

Endeavour is scheduled to land Monday at the Kennedy Space Center 

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