With Soyuz Commander and Expedition 8 Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri at the controls, the Soyuz vehicle softly linked up to the Pirs Docking Compartment as the two spacecraft flew 240 miles above central Asia. The docking followed Saturday's launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Joining Kaleri are Expedition 8 Commander and NASA ISS Science Officer Mike Foale and Pedro Duque of Spain.
Foale and Kaleri will spend more than six months living on the Station while Duque, who is flying under a commercial contract between ESA and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, will conduct an eight-day research mission before returning October 27 with Expedition 7 Commander Yuri Malenchenko and NASA ISS Science Officer Ed Lu, who monitored the new crew's arrival from onboard the ISS. Today marked 177 days in space for Malenchenko and Lu, and 175 days on the ISS.
After docking, clamps were affixed to the interface between the Soyuz and Pirs, and leak checks in the small tunnel connecting the two craft was underway. The hatches will be opened at about 5:15 a.m. Central time signaling the start of eight days of joint operations. Foale, Kaleri and Duque are the first visitors for Malenchenko and Lu, who have overseen operations and been in orbit since late April.
On the scene at the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev outside Moscow are NASA Associate Administrator for Space Flight William Readdy and International Space Station Program Manager William Gerstenmaier.