Shuttle docks with space station

The STS-123 crew boards the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (AP) -- Space shuttle Endeavour has docked with the international space station, kicking off almost two weeks of demanding construction work.

Before the late-night linkup, Endeavour did a 360-degree backflip to allow for full photographic surveillance to check for any possible damage. It's a safety-related procedure put in place following the 2003 Columbia disaster.

Something, maybe a bird, may have struck Endeavour's nose nine or 10 seconds after liftoff. The launch images are inconclusive so far.

Five spacewalks are planned during Endeavour's visit to the space station.

The astronauts will attach the first piece of a new Japanese space station lab to the orbiting complex.

Endeavour also is delivering a two-armed Canadian robot that will be assembled during the first three spacewalks of the mission.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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