Three astronauts arrived at the international space station (ISS) July 17 for a four-month stay, bringing the orbiting outpost back to its full complement of six spacefliers.
A Russian Soyuz space capsule carrying the three new Expedition 32 crew members — NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide — docked with the station at 12:51 a.m. EDT after a two-day flight.
The Soyuz launched into orbit July 14 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
At docking time, the Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft and space station were sailing 400 kilometers over northeastern Kazakhstan. The Soyuz parked itself at an Earth-facing docking port on the station’s Russian-built Rassvet module, and the hatches connecting the two spacecraft were opened at 3:23 a.m. EDT.
The Russian-U.S.-Japanese crew aboard the Soyuz arrived at the space station 37 years to the day after the world’s first truly international space docking: the July 17 meet-up between a NASA Apollo spacecraft and Russian Soyuz 19 capsule during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975. During that historic test flight, NASA astronaut Tom Stafford shook hands with Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov to cement the foundation of international space cooperation that ultimately led to the $100 billion ISS in orbit today.