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Expedition 31 Crew Docks at the International Space Station

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2012

image Expedition 31 crew members Gennady Padalka, Joe Acaba and Sergei Revin were welcomed aboard the International Space Station after the hatches opened Thursday at 4:10 a.m. EDT. They docked to the Poisk module at 12:36 a.m. after a two-day journey that began in Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, aboard the Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft.

After a series of leak and pressure checks, Expedition 31 Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers welcomed their new crewmates.

The new trio joined the crew for a greeting ceremony and conference with family and mission officials then conducted a safety briefing afterwards. It is now back to business for the current station residents while their newly arrived crew mates begin several days of familiarization tasks as they adjust to life aboard the orbital laboratory.

The docking occurred on Acaba's 45th birthday. He previously visited the station in March 2009 aboard space shuttle Discovery as an STS-119 mission specialist. This is Padalka's fourth long-duration spaceflight and his third aboard the station. His first mission was aboard Russian Space Station Mir. Revin is making his first trip into space.

Padalka is due to become Expedition 32 commander when Kononenko, Pettit and Kuipers undock July 1 in their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft after a six-month stay officially ending Expedition 31. Expedition 32 will be complemented two weeks later when it is joined by Flight Engineers Suni Williams, Yuri Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide.

While the space station transitions to six-member operations, SpaceX ground controllers are gearing up for the May 19 launch of the Dragon capsule. The first commercial cargo craft is scheduled to launch at 4:55 a.m. with the Canadarm2 grappling Dragon May 22 for a berthing to the Harmony node.

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