Friday, December 23, 2011

New Crew Makes Holiday Arrival At Space Station

A multinational crew just arrived at the International Space Station after a two-day journey from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, U.S. astronaut Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers of the European Space Agency docked in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft that linked up with the Rassvet module on the Russian side or the orbital outpost.

Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Anton Shkaplerov were at a control station within the Russian Zvesda Service Module, monitoring the final approach and docking. U.S. astronaut Dan Burbank also is onboard.

"A flawless approach and docking," NASA flight commentator Rob Navias said from the Russian Mission Control Center at Korolev outside Moscow.

The docking took place at 10:19 a.m. EST as the station and the Soyuz flew high over southern Russia.

"The Soyuz slides down the chimney at the International Space Station with an early Christmas present for the Expedition 30 crew -- a return to a steady state six-person crew capability."

A series of leak tests will take place over the next couple of hours to ensure a tight seal between the spacecraft. A hatch-opening and welcome ceremony will follow at 1 p.m. Live coverage of that event will begin at 12:45 p.m.

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