SPACE CENTER, Houston -- Space shuttle Endeavour closed in on the international space station early Friday as its crew prepared to install a massive billion-dollar robotic arm at the 240-mile-high outpost.
The crew awakened to a rendition of "Then The Morning Comes" by Smash Mouth.
"Welcome to another world," Mission Control said.
The arm, Canada's major contribution to space station Alpha, is essentially a high-tech construction crane that can move end-over-end on the orbiting complex.
At 57 feet, 9 inches and 3,618 pounds, the arm, made of aluminum, stainless steel and graphite epoxy, cannot support its own weight on Earth. It had to be disconnected at the elbow and was supported by a massive rig for pre-flight testing.
NASA has planned two spacewalks, Sunday and Tuesday, for Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and U.S. astronaut Scott Parazynski to install the arm.
"We are going to move it agonizingly slow at first, I think until we start to get a feel for whether or not it behaves like our simulations have predicted," Hadfield said. "We're actually going to run it through its initial paces during our flight."
Time for a third spacewalk was built into the mission schedule in case astronauts need it to complete the intricate work.
That includes hooking up wiring to power up the arm and installation of a UHF antenna to enable members of the station crew to talk to spacewalkers and improve shuttle-to-station communication.
Endeavour also will deliver an Italian-built cargo carrier filled with 10,000 pounds of gear. The carrier, named Raffaello, will be attached to the space station Monday.
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