The International Space Station. Image: NASA.
The International Space Station (ISS) is today home to three new residents after the platform's existing crew members welcomed aboard NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko from their docked Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft.
Met by Expedition 23 commander Oleg Kotov and flight engineers T. J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi, the three fresh-faced arrivals passed into the orbiting science facility at 0125 on Sunday morning after blasting clear of the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at just after midnight on Friday.
Life aboard the ISS is due to get a little more hectic in the very near future, with NASA's space shuttle Discovery expected to launch on a resupply run from the Kennedy Space Center on Monday.
If all goes well, the shuttle and its crew should dock with the station on April 07 ahead of delivering an important payload of science racks and ammonia tanks. While docked, Discovery's crew will perform a number of spacewalks to assist in the installation of the tanks.
The latest shuttle mission (STS-131) will leave NASA's faithful orbiters with only three remaining launches before each vessel in the fleet (Discover, Atlantis and Endeavour) becomes a $28.2 million USD tourist attraction.
The final shuttle mission is scheduled to take place before the close of 2010.