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Shuttle Delivers Russian Docking Port to ISS

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Two American astronauts will amble outside the International Space Station on a spacewalk Wednesday aimed at replacing batteries that have been powering the outpost for almost 10 years.

The excursion will come a day after the delivery of a fourth Russian-built docking port for Soyuz crew transports and robotic Progress space freighters.

Crane operators Piers Sellers and Garrett Reisman doubled up to move the 5.5-ton module from the shuttle's cargo bay to a berthing port on the Russian side of the station.

Reisman was so precise in putting the spacecraft into place that a sensor designed to detect contact with the docking apparatus failed to light up.

"Garrett did too good a job of flying," astronaut Steve Swanson said from NASA's Mission Control Center. "He went right down the middle and got a hole in one."

Said Sellers: "He knows that and he's loving it."

The docking port is named Rassvet, which is Russian for "dawn." It was berthed to the Earth-facing side of a space tug dubbed Zarya, which is Russian for "sunrise."

Rassvet is the first major Russian station element to launch aboard a U.S. space shuttle. As part of a barter agreement, it is filled with almost 6,500 pounds of American supplies and equipment.

Mounted to its outer hull is an airlock for a Russian research laboratory slated to launch on a Russian Proton rocket in 2012.

A radiator for the lab and a spare elbow joint for a European robotic arm also are fixed to the outer shell of Rassvet.

Coming up Wednesday: Atlantis mission specialists Michael Good and Stephen Bowen will perform a spacewalk to change out three batteries that have been powering station systems since December 2000.

Three more batteries will be replaced during a third spacewalk to be carried out by Good and Reisman on Friday.

Atlantis and its six-member crew are scheduled to depart the station Sunday after a weeklong stay. The astronauts plan to land May 26 at Kennedy Space Center.

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