Soyuz brings 11th long-duration crew to station
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: April 16, 2005
A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying the international space station's 11th
long-duration crew docked with the lab complex late Saturday after a
trouble-free two-day orbital chase that began with launch Thursday from the
Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The final moments of the approach and docking were a bit dramatic as the Soyuz capsule rolled 10 to 15 degrees about its vertical axis after contacting the station with a slight misalignment in the roll axis.
"The roll error is pretty large at this time," someone said on the Russian flight control audio loop as the Soyuz approached the station. "Are you ready just in case?"
But Krikalev never had to take manual control and the misalignment was relatively minor by the time the two spacecraft made contact.
"We have contact and capture," someone said as a probe on the nose of the Soyuz engaged the Pirs docking cone. Seconds later, the Soyuz rolled about its vertical axies, prompting Krikalev to observe: "Now we're spinning pretty significantly on the probe."
"Yes, but it's in the cone now," ground control replied and within moments, the "rates" damped out.
After leak checks and other preparations, Expedition 10 commander Leroy Chiao and Salizhan Sharipov planned to welcome the new crew aboard.
Krikalev and NASA science officer John Phillips were accompanied by European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori, who plans to return to Earth April 24 with Chiao and Sharipov after carrying out a series of ESA-sponsored experiments.
Assuming an on-time landing, Chiao and Sharipov will have logged 192 days
and 19 hours in space since launch from Baikonur Oct. 13, 2004.
The station crew also will assist Discovery's crew transferring equipment to and from a supply module and help out with three spacewalks by two shuttle astronauts.
"I would like to express the congratulations and appreciation from the newly selected NASA Administrator Mike Griffin," deputy administrator Fred Gregory told his Russian counterparts at a post-docking news conference. "I'd like to report that the return-to-flight activities for the shuttle appear to be on time and we are very hopeful we'll be able to launch in the first window in the middle of May or early June."
The shuttle launch window opens May 15 and closes June 3. Shuttle managers are expected to announce a target launch date within that window soon.