Thursday, June 09, 2011

New crew nearing station

American and Japanese astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut are closing in on the International Space Station.

After launching from Kazakhstan in a Soyuz spacecraft at 4:12 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Mike Fossum, Satoshi Furukawa and Sergei Volkov are headed for a 5:22 p.m. docking that will double the outpost's Expedition 28 crew to six.

Watch live NASA TV coverage of the docking here starting at 4:30 p.m.

Fossum, Furukawa and Volkov will join Ron Garan, Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev.

The new crew's Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft will dock at the Russian segment's Rassvet port, attached to the Zarya module facing Earth.

Shuttle Atlantis delivered Rassvet ("dawn") a year ago on what was then its last scheduled mission.

But the crew arriving at Rassvet today will welcome Atlantis back next month, when it flies the final shuttle mission and makes a shuttle's last visit to the station.

Click here to see an amazing gallery of photos of Endeavour docked at the station last month, taken by the last Soyuz crew to depart the station from the same port.

After the Soyuz docks and hatches are opened, a welcome ceremony is scheduled for 8:30 p.m., with TV coverage beginning at 7:45 p.m.

IMAGE: The Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan early June 8, 2011 (Kazakhstan time) carrying cosmonaut and Expedition 28 Soyuz commander Sergei Volkov, NASA astronaut Mike Fossum and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi

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