Discovery Roars to Space Station Docking
Massive main thrusters used after leak in smaller thrusters
By Mat Probasco,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2009 2:15 AM CDT
Discovery streaks across the sky as it clears a cloud bank over Florida.    (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)
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(Newser) – The space shuttle Discovery docked with the International Space Station in impressive style yesterday, using the space ship's massive main thrusters instead of the six smaller thrusters typically engaged, reports Space.com. A leak in one of the smaller maneuvering thrusters forced astronauts to use the noisy big engines to dock—a first for a NASA mission.

Commander Rick Sturckow, who had trained to dock using the big thrusters, docked the shuttle with the space station as both spacecraft flew more than 200 miles above the Atlantic Ocean. To make the job even harder, the space station was about one degree out of position. The 13-day mission will deliver 15,200 pounds of science gear.