Space shuttle Discovery's astronauts steered closer to the international space station for tonight's linkup, while checking their ship for any signs of launch damage.
NASA officials say no fuel tank debris was observed hitting Discovery during Friday's midnight liftoff. But the shuttle's most vulnerable areas – the wings and nose – still needed to be checked with lasers and cameras on a boom attached to the robot arm.
Discovery is loaded with supplies for the space station, now home to six astronauts. Once the seven shuttle fliers arrive, it will make for a record-tying crowd.
“Micro G is great,” rookie astronaut Jose Hernandez noted in his first Twitter update from space. The Mexican American grew up in a migrant worker family and applied for 12 straight years to become an astronaut, before getting picked in 2004. “Settling in and realizing my dream,” he wrote.
Astronaut Nicole Stott will move in as the replacement for an astronaut who has been at the orbiting complex for more than a month.
Stott will help put together a new $5 million treadmill that will expand the space station's gym. The treadmill, currently in more than 100 pieces, is named after Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert.