Soyuz Docks with Station

Image credit: NASA

Two days after launching from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Soyuz TMA-3 spacecraft successfully docked with the International Space Station. Astronauts Michael Foale, Alexander Kaleri, and visiting European Agency Astronaut Pedro Duque will briefly join the crew of Expedition 7: Ed Lu and Yuri Malenchenko on the station. Malenchenko, Lu and Duque will leave the station on October 27 so that Expedition 8 can begin their six month mission.

The International Space Station?s newest crew of Expedition 8 Commander Mike Foale and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri officially boarded the complex when hatches between its Soyuz spacecraft swung open at 5:19 a.m. CDT ( 1019 GMT, 2:19 p.m. Moscow time). They were joined by visiting researcher, European Space Agency astronaut Pedro Duque.

Greeting them on the station were Expedition 7 Commander Yuri Malenchenko and NASA ISS Science Officer Ed Lu, who are 177 days into their six months in space. The two crews will conduct eight days of joint operations and research before Expedition 7 and Duque return home on October 27.

Among those observing the on orbit arrival of Expedition 8 to the station were NASA Associate Administrator for Space Flight William Readdy and International Space Station Program Manager William Gerstenmaier. Both talked to the five station crew members delivering best wishes for the mission.

The plan for the two crews includes eight days of handover activities and scientific experiments carried out by Duque for Spanish and other European scientists under a commercial contract between ESA and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency.

After lunch, the new crewmembers will receive a safety briefing from Malenchenko and Lu and install a seat liner for Duque in the Soyuz earmarked for landing Oct. 27 (U.S. time) and then begin setting up a host of Duque?s equipment previously launched on Russian Progress resupply spacecraft.

The crews are scheduled to go to bed about 3 p.m. CDT today and wake up at midnight to begin their first full day of joint operations. Expedition 8 officially will take control of Station operations October 27 when Malenchenko, Lu and Duque close the hatches between their returning Soyuz and the station. Foale and Kaleri will remain on board until late April 2004.

Original Source: NASA News Release