Atlantis docks with space station one last time

Space shuttle Atlantis Sunday arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) for one final visit.

It docked at the station at 1507 GMT, reported. The hatches between the shuttle and the station will be opened after the crews complete checking for any leaks between the seals, it said.

Atlantis was launched Friday from NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. Its four astronauts will be joined by six others currently working at the orbiting station.

The shuttle's 12-day mission is to deliver food and equipment. It is carrying a system called the Robotic Refuelling Mission, which will test methods to robotically refuel and repair satellites in orbit. The refuelling mission will be installed on the exterior of the station.

Shuttle commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley, and mission specialists Sandra Magnus and Rex Walheim plan to remain at the space station till July 18, when they are due to undock Atlantis and head home to Earth.

Thousands of people, including some who came to the Kennedy Space Centre three decades ago for the first launch, had gathered Friday to witness Atlantis' final mission.

Atlantis will be on display at the Kennedy Space Centre after it returns to Earth, ending the US' 30-year space shuttle programme. Other retired shuttle orbiters will also be displayed at various scientific institutions in the US.

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