The U.S. space shuttle Endeavour has docked with the International Space Station, delivering a replacement crew and a massive piece of equipment to enlarge the orbital complex.
The shuttle is carrying three astronauts to replace the current crew of the space station, made up of one American woman and two Russian men who have been in orbit for nearly six months.
Three lengthy spacewalks are scheduled to secure a new girder to the station that will support power supplies and data-relay equipment for future space laboratories.
The girder is one of the trusses that form the rigid backbone of the multi-billion dollar orbiting outpost.
The station's new skipper is U.S. Navy captain Kenneth Bowersox, a veteran shuttle commander.
Captain Bowersox and his crew, flight engineers Donald Pettit and Nokolai Budarin, are scheduled to live and work aboard the station until March.
Endeavor's launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday came after a series of delays caused by technical problems and weather.