Expedition 7 Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Flight Engineer Ed Lu, who will become the NASA ISS Science Officer, lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 10:54 p.m. CDT. They are now bound for a docking with the orbiting complex at 12:58 a.m. CDT Monday. After a six-day handover of responsibilities aboard the station, Malenchenko and Lu will take over duties from the Expedition 6 crew of Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and ISS Science Officer Don Pettit. Bowersox, Budarin and Pettit have now been in orbit for 154 days.
Bowersox, Budarin and Pettit will undock from the complex at 5:40 p.m. CDT May 3 en route to a landing at 9:03 p.m. CDT in Kazakhstan that same day. They will travel home in a Soyuz spacecraft that has been docked to the station for six months. Malenchenko and Lu will remain aboard the station conducting a series of scientific and educational activities until October.
Early Saturday morning, Malenchenko and Lu will oversee two engine firings by their spacecraft that will adjust its course toward the Monday docking. On Sunday, another engine firing will be performed to further refine its course. Aboard the station, the Expedition 6 crew will spend Saturday with a quiet slate of activities that includes participating in planning teleconferences with the ground, off duty time and a series of "Saturday Morning Science" hobby activities conducted by Pettit.