Sunday, April 04, 2010

Soyuz Crew Docks with Space Station

A Russian space taxi arrived at the International Space Station on Easter Sunday with three fresh crew members and expanding the crew compliment to six aboard earth's orbital outpost.

"We all are believers. Easter is a great holiday. Our launch (took) place on the Holy Friday, and we will dock to the station on the Easter Day. We are proud of it”, Soyuz TMA-18 commander Alexander Skvortsov addressed a few days ago prior to their launch..

A Soyuz TMA18 spacecraft inched it's way to the Russian Poisk docking module, and at 1:25 am EDT (0525 GMT) today successfully docked as the complex flew 222 miles high above northern Kazakhstan.

Soyuz crew members -- Russian cosmonauts Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko along with American astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson -- will join the current Expedition 23 crew of Russian station commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineers T.J. Creamer of America and Soichi Noguchi of the Japanese Space Agency.

Kotev, Creamer and Noguchi arrived aboard the outpost 102 days ago on December 23, and are scheduled to depart on June 2, fifteen days before a Soyuz TMA19 craft launches a new crew of three.

After nearly two hours of post docking hard mate checks and hatch presurization leak checks, the doors between the two crafts were opened at 3:19 am as the station flew 216 miles above an area west of New Guinea.

The newly expanded Expedition 23 crew will head to bed at 12:30 pm today to begin their eight hour sleep period.

Today's docking begins a beehive of activity aboard the space station as the new crew of six now focus on preparing for the arrival of space shuttle Discovery in four days.

Discovery is set to dock with station on Wednesday morning following her launch from the Kennedy Space Center at 6:21:22 am EDT on Monday.

Once Discovery's crew of seven berths to the complex, thirteen humans will work and live aboard station for nine days. It will mark the final time for many years that that many people will be aboard at any given time.

It will also mark the first time in space history that four women will fly in space at one time. Discovery's crew includes three women and they will join Caldwell Dyson as three American and one Japanese females to occupy the same spacecraft.

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