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Endeavour docks with space station


Endeavour began the nine-minute Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver, or 'backflip,' on its last visit to the Inernational Space Station. A NASA photo

WASHINGTON (AFP): The US space shuttle Endeavour, with six astronauts on board including an Italian, docked at the International Space Station Wednesday, NASA said.

The docking, the next to last for the US shuttle programme, took place at 1014 GMT, according to a commentator on NASA TV, which broadcast live footage of the manoeuvre. The opening of the hatches was planned for 1230 GMT, it said.

The shuttle blasted off Monday on a 16-day mission to deliver a potent physics experiment to probe the origins of the Universe.

The mission, which will include four spacewalks, is being led by astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of Democratic US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who is recovering after being shot in the head at a January political rally.

The shuttle will remain at the station until May 30, returning to the United States on June 1, the US space agency said.

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2, a two-billion-dollar, 15,000 pound (7,000 kilogramme) particle detector, will be left behind to scour the Universe for hints of dark matter and antimatter over the next decade.

The 30-year US space shuttle programme formally ends later this year with the flight of Atlantis, leaving Russia's space capsules as the sole option for world astronauts heading to and from the orbiting research lab.

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Endeavour  ISS  

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