Soyuz Astronaut Trio Docks With International Space Station
December 21, 2012

Soyuz Astronaut Trio Docks With International Space Station

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Astronauts aboard the Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft have docked to the International Space Station, after spending two days in orbit.

Expedition 34 Flight Engineers Tom Marshburn, Roman Romanenko and Chris Hadfield launched on Wednesday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:12 p.m. local time, and rendezvoused with the space station two days later, successfully docking with the Station's Rassvet module.

The hatch was opened at 11:37 a.m. EST and the men were welcomed by Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin. An official welcoming ceremony with family members and mission officials took place shortly thereafter. A safety briefing followed.

The Expedition 34 crew is planned to be at the orbiting laboratory until March 2013, when Ford, Novitskiy and Tarelkin are planned to undock from the Poisk module and return home inside the Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft. The Expedition 34 crew will be spending both Christmas and New Years in Earth's orbit aboard the Space Station.

When Ford and his team undock from the ISS, Expedition 35 will officially begin, with Hadfield taking the reins as commander, along with flight engineers Marshburn and Romanenko. These men will be returning home from space in May 2013.

Hadfield last visited the station back in April 2001 aboard space shuttle Endeavour as an STS-100 mission specialist. NASA said he helped to install the Canadarm2, which is the station's robotic arm.

When Hadfield takes over the space station during Expedition 35, he will become Canada's first station commander.

Mashburn went to the station back in July 2009 aboard space shuttle Endeavour for the STS-127 mission. He performed three spacewalks to help complete the construction of the Japanese Kibo laboratory module.

According to NASA, Romanenko served as a flight engineer for Expedition 20 and 21 for six months.

During Expedition 34, team members will be performing experiments in space, including one experiment that will study the effects of microgravity on osteoclast activity, and the gravity sensing system of fish.

Mission members will also be looking into the cardiovascular system, performing experiments that cover human research, biological physical sciences, technology development and Earth observations.