British-born astronaut Nick Patrick and his crewmates were woken from their first sleep in space by the Beatles today. Mission controllers at Houston played Here Comes The Sun over the shuttle Discovery’s radio at the start of a busy day for the team.
She said: “We especially want to thank you for the burst of sunshine you brought into our lives last night. It was an awesome launch.”
Nick, 42, who was born at Saltburn, Teesside, later ran into problems when he extended a 50ft robot arm from the shuttle to inspect its heatshield for any damage.
The arm’s grip was failing to let go automatically but Nasa said Nick would be able to operate it manually by sending a few extra computer commands.
The examination, carried out to prevent a repeat of the Columbia disaster in 2003, was begun as the shuttle headed for its rendezvous tomorrow with the International Space Station, 220 miles above the Earth.
When Discovery reached orbit, space station commander Mike Lopez-Alegria called Houston and quipped: “We’re going to turn our porch light on so they can find us.”
Also on the 12-day mission to continue building the station is Sweden’s first astronaut, Christer Fuglesang of the European Space Agency. The rest of the crew are Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and mission specialists Bob Curbeam, Joan Higginbotham and Sunita Williams.
A German astronaut, Thomas Reiter, will fly home on the shuttle after a six-month stay in space, to be replaced by Williams.
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