Brazil's Marcos Ponce Carries Flag, Soccer Jersey Onto
Two days after blasting off from Russia's Baikonur
cosmodrome, the Soyuz TMA-8 capsule carrying cosmonaut
Pavel Vinogradov, astronaut Jeffrey Williams and Brazil's first
voyager into space, Marcos Pontes, docked with the International
Space Station at 11:19 pm EST Friday.
"Well, gentlemen, I congratulate you," a Mission Control
announcer said, before adding a bit of whimsy. "This is the
international space station. The train does not go any further,
please leave the cars."
The Associated Press reports that mimicked an announcement made
on Moscow subway trains.
Ninety minutes after docking, the airlocks between the capsule
and the ISS were opened, and the arriving crew was greeted with
hugs and handshakes by the station's current inhabitants, Valey
Tokarev and Bill McArthur. Ponce unfurled a Brazilian flag as he
floated into the station's main compartment.
Ponces also has with him a Brazilian soccer jersey, which he
hopes will bring his hometeam luck at this summer's World Cup in
While there is much work to be done over the next eight days,
before the Expedition 12 crew undocks from the ISS for the trip
home, the mood was light during the initial greetings.
"You didn't happen to leave anyone behind?" asked Russian space
agency official Alexei Krasnov during his first phone call with all
five men, as well as noting the crew's arrival coincided with April
Fool's Day in Russia.
Expedition 13 did, in fact, leave the third member of its team
on Earth -- but that situation should be remedied in July, when the
space shuttle Discovery delivers European Space Agency astronaut
Thomas Reiter of Germany to the station. Reiter's arrival will mark
the first time the ISS has had a three-man crew in over three