The resupplied the space station and delivered valuable spare parts.
International Space Station - Wikipedia
Most shuttle missions take astronauts to the space station for two weeks or so, during which every working day is intense. As soon as the wake-up music begins, printers start chattering out instructions for the day ahead. Almost every hour is scheduled, with crew members' tasks and the tools they will need choreographed by logistics experts on the ground making sure no one gets in anyone's way. At least that is the theory. The crews meet for breakfast, get briefed on the day's jobs, then scatter, breaking only for lunch and dinner.
International Space Station | NASA
During the last shuttle mission in May, a major computer failure left Nasa astronaut stuck with what must be one of the most striking views imaginable. The station's 65ft-long robotic arm is used to move equipment from one place to another, but sometimes an astronaut climbs on the end to help. On 17 May, Reisman was standing there, his feet clipped into a footplate, when a computer crashed and the arm froze. Reisman had 25 minutes to take in the scenery.
International Space Station | Historic Spacecraft
The docking procedure is as slow and cautious as you might expect given the price tags of the spacecraft involved: $1.7bn (£1.1bn) for a shuttle and around $100bn (£64bn) for the space station. Once they are locked together – a move that ends with a gentle lurch – it takes half an hour or so to equalise the pressure and finally open hatches that separate the two crews. "You see these pale faces on the other side and they're always excited to see you. Sometimes it's been three months since they've seen anyone else," says Sellers.
Illustrations and information about the International Space Station.
The space station has a permanent crew of six, so the arrival of new faces is a cause for celebration. That said, even the most welcome visitors can cause havoc if they are inexperienced. There is a subtle art to moving around without crashing into anything – or, more annoyingly, others – knocking computers, equipment and other objects off the walls to which they are attached with Velcro pads. One serving shuttle pilot confessed to leaving a wake of laptops and other vital belongings behind him the first time he tried to fly from one room to another. "When you first turn up, you are like a bull in a china shop," he said. "I had no idea where to put any of it back."