Russian "taxi" crew Commander Victor Afanasyev, rookie Flight Engineer Konstantin Kozeev and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Claudie Haignere docked the Soyuz TM-33 craft to the nadir docking port of the Zarya Control Module at 5:44 a.m. CDT (10:44 GMT) as the Soyuz and the ISS sailed 240 statute miles over Eastern Asia. The successful docking came two days after the crew was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
In the ISS, Expedition Three Commander Frank Culbertson, Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin monitored the docking and prepared for the opening of hatches between the Soyuz and Zarya after leak checks are completed to greet their first visitors since they took over station operations back in August.
Afanasyev, making his fourth flight into space, and Haignere, who is in her second flight, are veterans of previous flights on the Mir Space Station. This is Kozeev's first flight in space.
Haignere is flying for ESA, but representing CNES, the French Space Agency, under a commercial contract with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency. In addition to helping deliver the new Soyuz to Culbertson, Dezhurov and Tyurin, she will be conducting a host of scientific experiments while she and her crewmates spend eight days aboard the ISS.
Within hours after the docking, the visiting crewmembers were scheduled to receive a safety briefing on station systems from Culbertson, before Haignere begins to activate and conduct initial experiments in materials research, life sciences and meteorological phenomena.
The "taxi" trio is scheduled to depart the station next Tuesday night at 7:41 p.m. CDT (1:41 GMT on October 31) in the Soyuz TM-32 craft which arrived at the ISS in April and which is now docked to the new Pirs Docking Compartment. The "taxi" crew will land in the steppes of Kazakhstan several hours later.
The Expedition Three crewmembers are scheduled to return to Earth in December after their Expedition Four replacements arrive on board during the STS-108 mission aboard the Shuttle Endeavour. The shuttle is targeted for launch November 29.
With systems operating normally, the station is orbiting at an average altitude of 247 statute miles (395 km).
The Expedition Three crew will continue its scientific investigations this coming week in concert with the work being performed on board the ISS by the "taxi" crew.