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Atlantis makes a special delivery

The international Space Station received a year's worth of supplies in a giant shopping trolley yesterday, courtesy of the astronauts on Nasa's final shuttle flight.

Astronauts Sandra Magnus and Douglas Hurley used the space station's hulking robot arm to hoist the bus-size container out of Atlantis's payload bay and attach it to the orbiting outpost.

The canister – 6.5m long and 4.5m wide – is jammed with nearly five tonnes of household goods.

Food alone accounted for more than one tonne. Clothes were also stuffed inside the Italian-built cylinder, named Raffaello, as well as spare parts for the 245-mile-high station.

Astronauts planned to open the hatch and enter Raffaello later in the day, and start removing all the trays and bags of supplies.

So-called crew preference items will be first to come out. The six space station residents already received a bag of fresh fruit – the shuttle astronauts hand-delivered that straight after Sunday's docking – and were promised extra peanut butter.

Atlantis blasted off on Friday and is due back on Earth late next week. AP