The Soyuz launched flawlessly at 10:19 p.m. CDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakstan, and is on course to dock with the Station at 12:04 a.m. CDT Wednesday, April 21. Padalka and Fincke will spend six months aboard the Station, while Kuipers will spend nine days at the complex conducting science experiments before returning to Earth with the Expedition 8 crew, Commander Mike Foale and Alexander Kaleri, the Station flight engineer and ISS Soyuz 7 commander.
The hatches between the arriving ISS Soyuz 8 spacecraft and the Station will be opened at about 1:25 a.m. CDT Wednesday. Live NASA Television coverage of the docking and hatch opening will begin at 11 p.m. CDT Tuesday. At the time the Expedition 9 crew launched from Baikonur today, the Station was flying about 240 miles above the southern tip of South America.