|Volume: 03, Issue: 08||04/20/2005|
International Space Station Welcomes New InhabitantsThe International Space Station's (ISS) population swelled to five April 17 with the arrival of Expedition 11 and an Italian astronaut. New residents arrived at the ISS last night to begin a six-month stay. During their mission, new Expedition 11 crew Commander Sergei Krikalev and Flight Engineer/NASA Science Officer John Phillips are expected to welcome the first Space Shuttle crew to visit the complex in two-and-a-half years.
With Krikalev at the controls, a Soyuz spacecraft carrying Phillips and European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Roberto Vittori of Italy docked to the Station at 10:20 p.m. 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 12:45 a.m. April 17. 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 procedures.
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 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.
During a news conference April 18, Chiao expressed satisfaction with their mission: "All of our major objectives have been accomplished. The Station is in good shape. We're ready to come home."
On April 24 before they begin an extended sleep period, the new crew will transfer 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 will 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 U.S. 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 Discovery.
Information on the crew's activities aboard the Space Station, future launch dates, as well as Station sighting opportunities from anywhere on the Earth, is available on the Internet: 'http://www.nasa.gov/station .
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