As the Soyuz flight unfolded, Cygnus occupied a parking orbit 2.4 mi. above and 930 mi. behind the 260-mi.-high ISS.
The TMA-10M crew replaces ISS crewmembers Chris Cassidy, Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin, who descended to Earth on Sept. 10 after 5 1/2 months in orbit.
Kotov, a physician and colonel in the Russian air force, logged 359 days in orbit during ISS missions in 2007 and 2010. Ryazanskiy, a biochemist, joined Russia’s cosmonaut corps in 2003. Hopkins, a U.S. Air Force colonel and flight test engineer, is the first of NASA’s 2009 class of astronauts to launch.
Their tour of duty is expected to include three Russian spacewalks for the installation of science equipment and external maintenance, and visits by a Cygnus cargo craft in December and SpaceX Dragon and Russian Progress freighters early next year.