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Soyuz Spacecraft Delivers U.S., Russian Astronauts to International Space Station



NASA's Joe Acaba confers with Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin prior to Soyuz lift off. Photo Credit/NASA Photo

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft reached the International Space Station early Thursday, safely delivering a pair of cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut to the orbiting science laboratory.

New arrivals Gennady Padalka, Sergei Revin and Joseph Acaba were greeted by Expedition 31 commander Oleg Kononeko, NASA’s Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers, of the European Space Agency.

The two craft docked at 12:36 a.m, EDT, as they circled the Earth 250 miles over the Mongolia/Kazakhstan border.

“It’s going great, just beautifully,” Padalka informed Mission Control Moscow moments before what appeared to be a flawless docking.

The new crew will live and work aboard the station for four month, spending much of their time tending and serving as subjects in the more than 200 science experiments and engineering evaluations underway.

Also, they plan to greet the first U. S.commercial re-supply mission spacecraft. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon supply ship is set to lift off early Saturday from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The unpiloted Dragon should reach the station early next week.

Thursday’s linkup coincided with Acaba’s 45th birthday. The formerFlorida high and middle school science and math teacher joined NASA as an educator astronaut in 2004.

As the Soyuz crew lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan two days ago, Texas Tech University announced that Acaba plans to pursue a doctorate in science education from the school through a flexible online graduate program starting in the fall.

In July, Padalka is expected to become the first person to serve as a space station commander for a third time.

Revin is flying for the first time.



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