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Shuttle Atlantis docks with space station

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Shuttle Atlantis safely docks
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Space shuttle Atlantis arrives at space station 220 miles above South Pacific
  • Officials decided space debris close to space station would not affect docking
  • Crew will deliver research equipment, replacement parts to station

(CNN) -- The space shuttle Atlantis docked at the international space station on Sunday morning after officials decided there would be no need to perform a maneuver to avoid a piece of debris.

NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, had considered the maneuver to bypass the debris, whose track would take it close to the space station on Sunday.

However, officials later determined the object would remain a safe distance away.

Atlantis docked with the station about 220 miles over the South Pacific shortly before 10:30 a.m., NASA reported.

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Its six-member crew plans to deliver an integrated cargo carrier and a Russian-built mini research module to the station and bring a set of batteries for the station's truss and dish antenna, along with other replacement parts, NASA said.

This week's mission is the 32nd for Atlantis and its last scheduled flight as the U.S. space agency prepares to retire its aging shuttle fleet.

Atlantis, which lifted off Friday afternoon from Kennedy Space Center, made its maiden voyage in 1985.

NASA has plans for two other missions before the space shuttle program ends -- one for Discovery in September and the other for Endeavour in November.

During its career, Atlantis carried into orbit the Magellan spacecraft, which went on to map 98 percent of the planet Venus.

It also sent the Galileo spacecraft on its way to collect data about Jupiter and its moons for eight years.