Space shuttle Endeavour prepares to dock with the international space station, nearly 220 miles above Earth.
Chamitoff, who has been on the space station for nearly six months, greeted his ride home enthusiastically.
"You look beautiful," Chamitoff said by radio. "I am smiling from ear to ear."
The seven-member shuttle crew and the station crew were expected to greet each other at about 7 p.m. ET after opening their vehicles' hatches. Watch the docking »
Before the docking, the shuttle did a nine-minute backflip so station astronauts could take high-resolution pictures of the shuttle's thermal-protection system, NASA said. NASA will look at the photos for damage on Endeavour, which launched Friday. Watch the shuttle Endeavour's liftoff »
It was a gash on the wing of space shuttle Columbia that caused its destruction and the deaths of seven astronauts during re-entry February 1, 2003.
NASA keeps eye on two shuttle problems
Endeavour on its way to space station
While there, the astronauts will increase the station's living space with room for six instead of the current three. They'll install more places to sleep, another bathroom, a better water system, more exercise equipment and a bigger refrigerator.
The population on board the space station is to grow to six next spring.
Also on tap are four space walks focusing on the station's two Solar Alpha Rotary Joints, which allow the solar panels to track the sun.
The shuttle is also bringing Thanksgiving dinner, with irradiated turkey, candied yams, stuffing and dessert, because it won't be returning to earth until November 29.