A Crowded House Is A Happy House
REAL TIME UPDATE: 1215 EDT -- After arriving
Saturday night to dock with the International Space Station, the
members of both ISS Expeditions 10 and 11 are going through the
process of handing over the keys and preparing for the arrival of
the space shuttle Discovery.
With Expedition 11 Commander Sergei Krikalev at the controls,
the Soyuz spacecraft carrying Flight Engineer/NASA Science Officer
John Phillips and European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Roberto
Vittori of Italy docked to the station at 2220 EDT. The Russian
spacecraft, designated Soyuz TMA-6, linked up automatically to the
Pirs Docking Compartment as the Soyuz and the station flew over
central Asia at an altitude of 220 statute miles. Within minutes,
hooks and latches between the two vehicles joined together to form
a tight seal.
Hatches between the
Soyuz and the station were opened at 0045 Sunday. The two crews
greeted one another with handshakes and hugs. The first activity
scheduled for the five crewmembers was a safety briefing to
familiarize the newly arrived trio with emergency escape
Krikalev and Phillips will remain on board the station until
October. Vittori will return to Earth next week after eight days of
scientific experiments on the complex under a commercial agreement
between ESA and the Russian Federal Space Agency. The trio launched
at dawn Friday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for their
two-day journey to the outpost.
Aboard the station at the time of docking were Expedition 10
Commander and NASA Science Officer Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer
Salizhan Sharipov, who are wrapping up their six-month mission and
who will ride home on their Soyuz TMA-5 capsule with Vittori on
April 25 for a pre-dawn landing in central Kazakhstan. Today marked
the 185th day in space for Chiao and Sharipov and their 183rd day
on the station.
On hand for the docking activities at the Russian Mission
Control Center outside Moscow were NASA Deputy Administrator Fred
Gregory, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for International
Space Station and Space Shuttle Programs Michael Kostelnik,
Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Craig Steidle and
ISS Program Manager William Gerstenmaier, along with Russian and
European space officials.
On Sunday before they
began an extended sleep period, the new crew transferred their
custom-made Soyuz seat liners as well as cargo carried aloft on the
Soyuz for the complex. Later in the day, initial briefings on the
handover from the current residents to their replacements were to
be conducted and the new Soyuz' systems will be deactivated.
Over the next week, Krikalev and Phillips will familiarize
themselves with station systems and stowed equipment, conduct
robotics training with the Canadarm2 robot arm, and receive
detailed briefings on scientific payloads. Phillips and Chiao will
also continue the maintenance and repair work on the cooling
systems in the US airlock Quest for the resumption of spacewalk
capability from the station this summer.
In addition, they will pack discarded gear and equipment for
return to Earth on the Raffaello cargo module that will be brought
to the station on the Space Shuttle's Return to Flight mission,
STS-114, targeted for arrival next month on the Shuttle