Astronauts aboard space shuttle Discovery and the international space station joined forces Thursday, linking their ships and kicking off the biggest construction job ever attempted by a single team in orbit.
History was made with the 215-mile-high linkup: It was the first time two female commanders met in space.
Retired Air Force Col. Pamela Melroy steered Discovery in for the docking and was the first to enter the space station. She was embraced by Peggy Whitson, the station's skipper.
Right before the two spacecraft hooked up, Melroy guided Discovery through a 360-degree backflip so the station crew could photograph the entire shuttle. The pictures were hurriedly beamed down so NASA could determine whether Discovery's belly sustained any launch damage from ice or insulating foam from the fuel tank.
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