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Earth's Gravity Kept Astronauts Waiting at Space Station's Door

Shuttle Astronauts Make Midnight Docking at Space Station
Space shuttle Endeavour is seen by a camera on the exterior of the International Space Station just before its midnight docking on Feb. 10, 2010 during NASA's STS-130 mission. Japan's giant Kibo laboratory is seen in the foreground. (Image credit: NASA TV.)

Astronauts aboard space

Endeavour docked at the space station Wednesday morning at 12:06 a.m. EST (0506 GMT),

But not so during Endeavour's arrival. It took about 45 minutes for the relative motion to damp out. Only

Space shuttle flight

With Endeavour docked at the

But unlike small round

"One of the external forces

While the 11 astronauts

On Earth's surface, the

Spacecraft counter the

The space station is a

But it has modules jutting

"This creates what we call a

Typically, visiting shuttles

So while Endeavour's six astronauts had to wait a bit longer than normal to join their

"It's a lot less common, but

Endeavour's crew, commanded

The astronauts launched

The mission is the first of

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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.