Russian, U.S. Soyuz Crew Docks with Space Station


Soyuz spacecraft with two Russian cosmonauts, NASA astronaut closes in on ISS docking. Photo Credit: NASA TV

Russia’s Soyuz TMA-06M, 32S spacecraft successfully docked with the International Space Station early Thursday, delivering two cosmonauts, a U.S. astronaut and 32 Medaka fish for an aquatic skeletal development experiment.

The same day launch and docking of a Russian Progress resupply craft is set for next Wednesday. One day later, Williams and Hoshide are scheduled for a six to seven hour spacewalk to deal with a cooling system leak on the P-6 solar power system segment radiator.
The newcomers were greeted by Expedition 33 station commander Sunita Williams of NASA, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko.

The Soyuz 32 spacecraft, the ISS program designation, lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday at 6:51 a.m., EDT.

The container with the Medaka, a small transparent fish, will be transferred to the station’s new aquatic habitat.

The habitat was launched in July aboard Japan’s third H-II Transfer Vehicle re-supply craft. Medaka, which thrive in a natural neutrally buoyant environment on Earth, will be studied for changes in skeletal and muscle development that can be attributed to weightlessness.

Thursday’s docking initiates a busy week for the station, which has not had a full complement of six crew since mid-September.

On Sunday, the SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply craft departs the station after an 18-day stay, restoring a U.S. down mass capability lost with the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle program in July 2011.

Novitskiy, Tarelkin and Ford are scheduled to live and work aboard the orbiting science lab until mid-March.

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