Russian "taxi crew" Commander Sergei Zalyotin, European Space Agency Flight Engineer Frank DeWinne from Belgium and Russian Flight Engineer Yuri Lonchakov docked their new Soyuz TMA-1 capsule to the Russian Pirs Docking Compartment of the ISS at 11:01 p.m. Central time last night (501 GMT Nov. 1) as the two craft flew 230 statute miles over central Russia, linking up to the ISS along side an older Soyuz TM-34 return vehicle which has been at the station since April. Zalyotin, DeWinne and Lonchakov will depart the ISS in the older Soyuz on Nov. 9.
A fresh Soyuz is delivered to the ISS every six months to provide an assured return capability for station residents in the unlikely event a problem would force them to come home prematurely. The new Soyuz is designed to accommodate larger or smaller crewmembers, and is equipped with upgraded computers, a new cockpit control panel and improved avionics.
The Expedition 5 crewmembers - Commander Valery Korzun, NASA ISS Science Officer Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Sergei Treschev - monitored the arrival of their new visitors from the Zvezda Service Module to which the Pirs docking port is attached.
After conducting leak checks between the Soyuz and the ISS, hatches swung open between the two spacecraft at 12:26 a.m. Central time (626 GMT), enabling the six crewmembers to greet one another and receive congratulatory calls from Russian and European dignitaries gathered at the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev, outside Moscow.
The visiting "taxi" crew will spend eight days on the ISS. During that time, DeWinne will conduct a host of scientific experiments, some of them in the Microgravity Glovebox housed in the station's Destiny Laboratory.
The arrival of the "taxi" crew sets the stage for the launch of the shuttle Endeavour Nov. 11 to bring a new crew of residents to the ISS to replace Korzun, Whitson and Treschev, who have been in space since June. Endeavour's crew, led by Commander Jim Wetherbee, will also deliver the Port One (P1) truss segment to the ISS, the fourth of 11 such trusses which form the backbone for the ISS for the addition of new modules and power-producing solar arrays.
-MOREDetails about the final days of the work on orbit by the Expedition Five crew and the progress of the Soyuz "taxi" flight to the station will be offered in an ISS Mission Status Briefing to be held at the Johnson Space Center, TX on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 1 p.m. CST.