All Aboard! New Crew Members Reach The Space Station
March 29, 2013

New Crew Members Reach Space Station In Record Time

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

Astronauts launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:43 a.m. Baikonur time Friday morning on their way towards the International Space Station (ISS).

The three new crew members blasted off aboard the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos)  Soyuz spacecraft. Chris Cassidy of NASA and Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos docked with the station just six hours later, becoming the three new crew members of the Expedition 35 mission.

The Soyuz crew was the first to take this expedited route to the orbiting laboratory, reaching their destination in just four orbits instead of the usual two-day launch-to-docking mission. Russian space officials had previously tested this route with the last three Progress cargo vehicles.

Expedition 35 will be operating with its full six-person crew until May, after which Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency and Flight Engineers Tom Marshburn of NASA and Roman Romanenko of Roscosmos will return to Earth aboard the Soyuz. After they leave ISS, their departure will kick start the Expedition 36 mission under the command of Vinogradov.

This is the third space mission for Vindogradov, who was a crew member aboard space station Mir for 197 days in 1997 and 1998. He spent 182 days aboard the ISS in 2006.

During the next six months aboard the ISS, investigations will be performed on the US operating segment of the station, and 44 on the Russian segment. Over 430 investigators from around the world will be involved in this research, which covers human research, biological and physical sciences, technology development, Earth observation, and education.

Expedition 35 will be expanding the scope of research aboard the station, helping to improve life on Earth and advance future exploration beyond Earth orbit.

SpaceX Dragon capsule just left the space station and landed back in the Pacific Ocean after a successful resupply mission. Expedition 35 crew members spent a few weeks unloading and reloading cargo into the capsule. This was Dragon's second completed mission, and SpaceX still has 10 more to go on its contract with NASA.

Hatch opening activities will be commencing on Friday between the new and old crew members aboard the ISS.