Three new crew members arrived at the international space station (ISS) Dec. 22, 2009, joining a U.S. astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut who had been staffing the station alone since their Expedition 21 crew mates departed on a Soyuz three weeks earlier.

The new crew members, NASA astronaut T.J. Creamer, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, lifted off Dec. 20 aboard a three-man Soyuz capsule launched from the BaikonurCosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Kotov and fellow cosmonaut Max Suraev are slated to conduct a spacewalk in January from the Pirs airlock, part of the station’s Russian segment. Less than a week later, Suraev and station commander Jeff Williams are due to fly the Soyuz that brought them to the station from its current location at the end of the Zvezda service module to the new Poisk module. In February, the Space Shuttle Endeavour is due to deliver the Tranquility node and its cupola, one of the last major portions of the station to be installed.