HOUSTON — The Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft delivered three U.S. and Russian astronauts to the International Space Station early Nov. 16, briefly restoring the orbiting science laboratory to full six-person operations for the first time in two months.

Dan Burbank, who will take command of Expedition 30 later this month, Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin were greeted by U.S. station commander Mike Fossum and flight engineers Sergey Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa.

The automated linkup between the Soyuz 28 mission crew and the Poisk docking module on the station’s Russian segment unfolded at 12:24 a.m. EST as the two spacecraft flew nearly 250 mi. over the South Pacific. The mission was launched two days earlier from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Fossum, Volkov and Furukawa are scheduled to depart the station after six days of crew handover activities, descending in the Soyuz 27 mission spacecraft into Kazakhstan after 167 days in space.

The shorter-than-usual transition was prompted by the Aug. 24 loss of the cargo version of the Soyuz launcher with a Progress supply craft.

The mishap prompted a two-month delay in the launching of the latest crew mission while Russia devised a recovery plan. Early in the aftermath of the Progress loss, the U.S.-led, 15-nation station partnership prepared for a possible late-November evacuation of the station.

Sustained six-person operations are scheduled to resume in late December, when three U.S., Russian and European crewmembers arrive on the Soyuz 29 mission.