Soyuz Commander Salizhan Sharipov smoothly guided his Soyuz craft to a linkup with the Station's Pirs Docking Compartment at 11:16 p.m. CDT Friday. Sharipov took over manual control of the Soyuz' flight part way through the approach when problems were experienced with an automated docking system.The docking proceeded flawlessly under Sharipov's control.
Sharipov, Expedition 10 Commander and NASA Science Officer Leroy Chiao and Russian Space Forces Test Cosmonaut Yuri Shargin launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on Thursday. The docking occurred about 225 statute miles above western Russia.
Expedition 9 Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer and NASA Science Officer Mike Fincke watched from the Station, photographing the Soyuz as it approached. After leak checks, hatches were opened at 2:13 a.m. CDT, and Padalka and Fincke greeted their first visitors since April.
The ISS Soyuz 8 craft that has been at the Station since April will serve as the return vehicle for Padalka, Fincke and Shargin. Shargin will spend eight days aboard Station conducting science experiments. Today marked the 180th day in space for Padalka and Fincke and their 178th on the complex. Padalka and Fincke will hand over Station operations to Chiao and Sharipov, depart the Station and land in north central Kazakhstan with Shargin on Oct. 23.
The new Soyuz will be relocated from Pirs to the Zarya module docking port by Chiao and Sharipov in November.
Watching the activities at the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev were NASA Deputy Administrator Fred Gregory, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Station and Space Shuttle Michael Kostelnik, and ISS Program Manager William Gerstenmaier.
Over the next week, Chiao and Sharipov will familiarize themselves with Station systems and stowed equipment, conduct robotics training with the Canadarm2 robot arm, and receive detailed briefings on scientific payloads. Sharipov and Padalka will perform maintenance work on the oxygen-generating Elektron system, using spare parts carried aboard the new Soyuz. Chiao and Fincke are planned to repair the cooling system of a second U.S. spacesuit.