Russia’s 30 mission Soyuz successfully docked with the International Space Station early Thursday, delivering a three man crew.
The automated linkup unfolded at 12:36 a.m., EDT, as the two spacecraft sailed 250 miles over the border separating Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
The Soyuz TMA-04M capsule docks at
Poisk module. Image Credit/NASA TV
The Soyuz TMA-04M capsule docked with the Russian segment two days after cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
“Everything went smoothely,” Padalka informed Mission Control Moscow, where the Soyuz crew received praise from Vladimir Popovkin, head of Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency.
The newcomers were greeted by the station’s Expediton 30 commander Oleg Kononenko, of Russia, and flight engineers Don Pettit, of NASA, and Andre Kuipers, of the European Space Agency.
The linkup restored the orbiting science laboratory to six person status for the first time since April 27, when a trio of U. S. and Russian fliers descended to Earth in another Soyuz, following a 5.5 month tour of duty.
Padalka will assume command of the station, as Kononenko, Pettit and Kuipers return to Earth in early July. Padalka, Revin and Acaba will remain aboard the station for four months.
The docking held a special significance for each of the men.
It coincided with Acaba’s 45th birthday. Two days ago, Texas Tech University announced that the former Florida high and middle school math and science teacher plans to pursue a doctorate in education under a flexible online study program starting this fall.
In July, Padalka will become the first person to command the station for a third time. Revin is on his first spaceflight.