Florida Space shuttle Discovery pulled up and docked at the international space station on Sunday night, delivering a full load of gear and science experiments.
The linkup occurred as the spacecraft zoomed more than 200 miles above the Atlantic and ended a round-the-world chase of nearly two days. The astronauts cheered when the hatches swung open, and the two crews greeted each other with hugs and handshakes.
A thruster failure made the rendezvous all the more challenging for shuttle commander Rick Sturckow.
One of Discovery’s small thrusters began leaking shortly after Friday’s midnight liftoff and was shut down. None of the little jets was available for the rendezvous and docking, and Sturckow had to use the bigger, more powerful primary thrusters, making for a somewhat bumpier, noisier ride.