CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. —Atlantis astronauts attached a new Russian chamber to the International Space Station on Tuesday, using a robot arm to drive in the 20-foot-long room that will double as a closet and mini-lab.
This was the first time NASA delivered a Russian compartment to the 12-year-old space station.
Normally, Russian space station modules dock automatically. That's how a similar compartment got to the space station last November.
Astronaut Garrett Reisman operated the space station's robot arm, driving in the module with such precision that the first capture sensor didn't even go off.
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"He went right down the middle and got a hole in one," Mission Control said. Reisman was assisted by Piers Sellers, who called out all the milestones.
The six space station residents — especially the three Russians — were thrilled with the addition. Commander Oleg Kotov thanked NASA for delivering the compartment, named Rassvet, or Dawn in Russian.
"The International Space Station has grown by one more module," he called down in Russian.
Kotov's enthusiasm was diminished later in the day when he photographed the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, calling it scary.
"That's not good," Kotov told reporters. "I really feel not good about that."
Also visible from orbit, he noted, was the volcanic ash above Europe, especially in the evening.