Russia's Soyuz TMA-22 takes aim at the Poisk docking
port on the International Space Station. Photo Credit/
Russia’s TMA-22 spacecraft docked successfully with the International Space Station early Nov. 16, delivering a three man U. S. and Russian crew. The arrival temporarily restored the orbiting science laboratory to six person crew operations for the first time since mid-September.
Newcomers Dan Burbank, of NASA, and cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin were greeted by Mike Fossum, Sergey Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa, the station’s U. S. commander and Russian and Japanese flight engineers.
An automated docking of the Soyuz 28 mission crew with the Poisk module of the station’s Russian segment occurred at 12:24 a.m., EDT, as the two spacecraft flew 248 miles over the South Pacific.
Dan Burbank, center, will accept command of the space station
later this month. He's flanked by Anatoly Ivanishin, left, and Anton
Shkaplerov during a training session at NASA's Johnson Space
Center. Photo Credit/NASA photo
The TMA-22 launched late Nov. 13 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The mission eased concerns of a potential mid-November station evacuation in response to the Aug. 24 Soyuz failure with the station bound Progress 44 cargo capsule. A Russian investigation into the mishap and recovery plan delayed the latest Soyuz crew transport mission by two months.
Fossum, Volkov and Furukawa are scheduled to depart in the Soyuz 27 spacecraft late Nov. 21, leaving just six days for a crew handover usually scheduled for several weeks. Until late October, it appeared Fossum and his crewmates might descend, leaving no one aboard the orbiting science laboratory through an extended Soyuz recovery.
In mid-September, the U. S .led 15 nation station partnership agreed to cut normal six crew operations in half while the recovery unfolded. The evacuation concerns began to ease on Oct. 30, as Russia successfully launched a cargo version of the Soyuz with the Progress 45 supply craft.
Investigators blamed the Aug. 24 mishap that sent the previous supply ship crashing into remote Siberia on a clogged third stage fuel line. The blockage was traced to a preflight inspection oversight.
Burbank, who will inherit command of the station from the departing Fossum, Shkaplerov and Ivanishin will staff the station alone until they are joined on Dec. 23 by three U. S., Russian and European crewmates.