Soyuz TMA 04M Rocket

US-Russian Crew Arrives at International Space Station

An American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International

Space Station early on May 17, kicking off a four-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin docked with the international space station at 12:36 a.m. EDT (0436 GMT) Thursday as the two spacecraft soared 249 miles above the border between Mongolia and Kazakhstan. The three spaceflyers are scheduled to float through the orbiting lab’s hatch just before 4 a.m. EDT (0800 GMT), NASA officials said. When that happens, the three newcomers will bring the station back up to its full crew of six. Their fellow Expedition 31 crewmembers, NASA’s Don Pettit, Dutchman Andre Kuipers and cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko,have had the $100 billion orbiting complex to themselves since April 27. Joe Acaba, Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin launched on May 14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They were originally scheduled to blast off on March 29, but a botched pressure test cracked their Soyuz capsule, causing a six-week delay while another spacecraft was readied. The three new arrivals, Joe Acaba, Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin, will live and work aboard the international space station for four months, returning to Earth in mid-September. All will serve as flight engineers under Kononenko, the commander of the Expedition 31 mission. Kononenko, Pettit and Kuipers boarded the orbiting lab in late December and are scheduled to depart on July 1.