Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New crew set to begin six-month stay on station

A Russian spacecraft has safely delivered three new crew members to the International Space Station, docking at 5:48 p.m. EDT as the outpost flew 220 miles above Rio De Janeiro.

An automated docking system successfully eased American astronaut T.J. Creamer, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi into a port on the Earth-facing side of Russian Zarya module, completing a two-day journey from Kazakhstan.

"Contact, capture confirmed," a voice said through a Russian translator.

Hooks and latches are closing to secure the station's hold on the Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft.

Leak checks will follow before hatches are opened between the two vehicles around 7:30 p.m., and the new arrivals join Expedition 22 crewmates Jeff Williams and Max Suraev on board the station.

"Welcome to the station, your home for six months," Williams radioed.

The visit is the first for Creamer, the second for Kotov and Noguchi.

Back on the ground outside Moscow, space agency officials have just begun a post-docking press conference.

Click here to open a NASA TV video player and watch the press conference and the welcome ceremony live.

Click here to read more about Expedition 22.

IMAGE: The Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft carrying three new Expedition 22 crew members approaches the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

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