SPACE CENTER, Houston -- Space Shuttle Endeavour pulled in closer to the international space station early Saturday for a morning linkup with the 240-mile-high outpost.
"There's no question that you'll be top gun on the planet today," Mission Control told Commander Kent Rominger, who would guide Endeavour to dock at the U.S.-built Destiny laboratory.
Rominger said Friday that the intricate process involves use of cameras, lasers and a radar to help Endeavour "wind up within an inch of our target when we finally dock."
Endeavour is the first shuttle to visit the station's crew of Russian commander Yuri Usachev and American astronauts Susan Helms and Jim Voss since they arrived in March for a 4 1/2 month stay.
The two crews won't meet face to face until Monday because Endeavour must maintain a lower cabin pressure in anticipation of a Sunday spacewalk. Once docked, the shuttle and station crews can use an outer station compartment to exchange tools and other items.
Endeavour's crew spent Friday making sure equipment to be used during the 11-day mission would work properly, including spacesuits, spacewalking gear and a 50-foot robot arm attached to the shuttle.
That robot arm will be used Sunday to hoist a larger, billion-dollar robot arm to the laboratory. Once powered up, the 58-foot arm will be able to walk end-over-end, like an inchworm, and act as a high-tech construction crane, adding pieces to the station over the next 15 to 20 years.
Both arms were built by Canada, and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield will join U.S. astronaut Scott Parazynski in a Sunday spacewalk to unfold it, bolt it together and wire it up.
The shuttle arm has been used to help build the station, called Alpha, but the job required a larger, more dexterous arm as Alpha grew. The larger arm has two hands instead of one and more joints.
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