April 10, 2008

New Crew Arrives at Space Station

A Russian Soyuz capsule successfully docked with the international space station early today, delivering a replacement crew of two cosmonauts and the first South Korean space traveler.

The two spacecraft linked up at 7:57 a.m. CDT as the they orbited the Earth more than 200 miles above northern Kazakhstan.

Newcomers Sergei Volkov, Oleg Kononenko and So-yeon Yi joined station commander Peggy Whitson and flight engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Garrett Reisman . The Soyuz launched from Central Asia two days ago.

Volkov, the first second generation professional space explorer, and Kononenko will take over supervision of the space station from Whitson and Malenchenko. Volkov is the 35-year-old son of former Soviet and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Volkov and a lieutenant colonel in the Russian Air Force. Kononenko, a 43-year-old mechanical engineer, is a civilian cosmonaut. The two first-time cosmonauts have trained for a six-month mission.

Yi, a 29-year-old engineer from the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, is visiting under a commercial agreement between the Russian and South Korean governments.

The six America, Russian and South Korean astronauts were to spend their first day together in discussion of space station safety procedures.

Whitson and Malenchenko are scheduled to depart the station in an older Soyuz and land in remote Kazakhstan early on April 19, ending a 192-day mission. Yi will accompany their return.

The shuttle Discovery is scheduled to launch on May 31 with the second piece of Japan's science module, an enclosure that rivals a touring bus in its size. Reisman plans to return to Earth aboard Discovery after three months in space.


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