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Shuttle docks at space station

THE United States space shuttle Discovery arrived at the International Space Station on Tuesday to deliver its final pair of solar wing panels and the first Japanese astronaut to live aboard the station.

After a two-day journey to catch up to the station, commander Lee Archambault slipped Discovery into a berth at the orbital outpost, 354 kilometers above western Australia.

"Welcome to the space station, Discovery. We're glad you're here," station commander Mike Fincke radioed to the crew.

About two hours later, the seven Discovery astronauts floated through a tunnel and into the station to greet their hosts. The station has not had visitors since last November.

"We've been waiting for you guys for a while," Fincke said. "Welcome aboard."

The shuttle crew includes two-time space flier Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Wakata will be taking over as a space station flight engineer from NASA's Sandra Magnus, who has been in orbit since last November and is due to ride back to Earth aboard Discovery.

The shuttle blasted off on Sunday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a 13-day mission. Initial inspections of the shuttle showed no launch damage.


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