MOSCOW, March 29 (UPI) — A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying new crew members to the International Space Station docked with the station as scheduled late Thursday, officials said.
“The docking was held by command from Earth at the designated time, in automatic regime,” a spokesman for the Russian space agency Roscosmos told RIA Novosti.
The spacecraft reached the space station just 6 hours after its launch from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, using a series of ballistic maneuvers to shorten the normal two to three days necessary to reach the ISS.
NASA officials had called the shortened trip an “express” mission, noting it was the first time the technique had been used on a manned mission after it was successfully tested with three unmanned Russian Progress cargo supply missions to the ISS..
The newly arrived crew members, cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin and astronaut Christopher Cassidy, join Roman Romanenko of Russia, Chris Hadfield of Canada and Thomas Marshburn of the United States.
The crew will conduct science investigations, dock and unload five supply spacecraft, and conduct four spacewalks during the next six months, Roscosmos said.
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