May 17, 2012
Soyuz Crew Docks Successfully With International Space Station
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying American astronaut Joe Acaba and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin docked successfully with the International Space Station´s Poisk module at 12:36 a.m. EDT on Thursday after a two day journey, reports NASA.
The three Soyuz members were welcomed aboard the orbiting lab as the hatches opened nearly 4 hours later, at 4:10 a.m. EDT. The crew of the ISS -- Expedition 31 Commander Oleg Kononenko, and Flight Engineers Don Petit and Andre Kuipers -- completed a series of leak and pressure checks before opening the hatch on the Soyuz.
After a greeting ceremony, conference with family and officials, and a safety briefing, it was back to business for the station residents while the new arrivals begin several days of familiarization tasks as they adjust to their new home for the next 4-5 months.
Their mission, which usually involves about 6 months in space, has been shortened due to an unexpected launch delay. However, their time onboard will be intense, undertaking dozens of experiments and preparing for the arrival of the first private cargo vessel at the ISS in a few short days.
SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Dragon spacecraft on May 19 from Cape Canaveral, Florida in what the company is hoping to be the first steps toward an eventual manned mission. It is scheduled to berth with the Harmony node on May 22.
Padalka will take over the helm as Expedition 32 commander on July 1, when Kononenko, Petit and Kuipers undock and return home to Earth in their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft after six months aboard the ISS.
Expedition 32 will then be joined by three new members -- Flight Engineers Suni Williams, Yuri Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide -- a few weeks afterward.