The Soyuz rocket carrying Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 10:02 p.m. Irish Standard Time.
|Kononenko, Lindgren and Yui spoke to their families on Earth from the|
Zvezda Service Module. credit: NASA TV
On reaching Earth orbit less than nine minutes after launch, the Soyuz spacecraft deployed only one of its two solar arrays before successfully deploying the second shortly before docking. After a four orbit rendezvous profile, the Soyuz successfully docked with the Rassvet Module of the International Space Station's Russian segment at 3:45 a.m.
The hatches between the Soyuz and the station were opened at 5:56 a.m. after leak checks were completed, as Kononenko, Lindgren and Yui were greeted by the Expedition 44 prime crew members already aboard the station, restoring the station's crew complement to six people.
The new station residents who are expected to remain on the ISS for the next five months, before returning to Earth in December. They will begin life aboard their new home by adjusting to microgravity and becoming familiar with their surroundings.
This is the third long duration mission mission to the ISS for Soyuz commander Kononenko, who previously flew to the orbital laboratory during Expedition 17 and Expedition 30/31.
Today's arrival at the space station marks the first flight into space for Lindgren and Yui. The pair were both selected as part of the NASA Astronaut Class of 2009.
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