U. S., Russian Astronauts Reach Space Station Aboard Soyuz Spacecraft

April 7th, 2011

U. S. and Russian astronauts approach International Space Station for a docking. Photo Credit/NASA TV

A Soyuz capsule with a three-man U. S. and Russian crew docked smoothly with the International Space Station late Wednesday.

The linkup at 7:09 p.m., EDT, delivered cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Andrey Borisenko as well as Ron Garan of NASA to the orbiting science laboratory for a six month stay.

They were greeted by Dmitry Kondratyev, the station commander, and flight engineers Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency and Catherine Coleman of NASA.

The latest Soyuz lifted off late Monday, initiating what Russian officials said was a trouble free transit to the station. The Soyuz rocket was emblazoned with the likeness of Yuri Gagarin, the world’s first space traveler.

The global space community will mark the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s April 12, 1961 flight on Tuesday.

Borisenko will transition to station commander in mid-May, as Kondratyev, Coleman and Nespoli return to Earth aboard an older Soyuz.

The new Soyuz crew fills vacancies created on March 16th,   when NASA’s Scott Kelly and Russia’s Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka descended to Earth aboard the Soyuz TMA-OM1 spacecraft.