The European Space Agency’s Johannes Kepler Automated Transfer Vehicle-2 (ATV-2) successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) at midmorning on Feb. 24.
The ATV-2, launched Feb. 16, linked with the station’s aft docking port at 10:59 a.m. EST, as the two spacecraft sailed 220 mi. over the Atlantic Ocean, southwest of the Liberian coast. The linkup was delayed several minutes to correctly align a video tracking device.
The Johannes Kepler launched from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, with about seven tons of propellant, dry goods and life support equipment. At the station’s aft port, the Johannes Kepler is responsible for the station’s reboost and some attitude control. The first station maneuver with the ATV-2 is scheduled for Feb. 25, 2011.
The reboost will position the station for the March 16 departure and landing of the Soyuz 24S with station Expedition 26 crew members Alexander Kaleri, Oleg Skripochka and Scott Kelly, and the April 1 arrival of the Soyuz 26S with Expedition 27 crewmembers Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev and Ron Garan.
Meanwhile, following its successful liftoff Feb. 24, shuttle Discovery is scheduled to dock with the space station on Feb. 26 shortly after 2 p.m. EST.
Discovery will deliver an equipment storage module, an external rack to hold spare parts and five tons of research gear and other supplies.