The Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft approaches the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
Wearing festive holiday hats, the Expedition 22 crew speaks with officials from Russia, Japan and the United States. Credit: NASA TVNASA astronaut T.J. Creamer, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi docked with their new home at 5:48 p.m. EST Tuesday. The trio launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft at 4:52 p.m. Sunday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
From inside the station, Expedition 22 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev monitored the approach of the Russian spacecraft as it docked to the Earth-facing port of the Zarya module.
After completion of leak checks, the hatches between the two vehicles were opened at 7:30 p.m. Williams and Suraev, who arrived at the station Oct. 2 aboard the Soyuz TMA-16, welcomed the new Expedition 22 flight engineers aboard their orbital home for the next five months.
Creamer, 50, is making his first flight into space. Selected as an astronaut in 1998, Creamer was a support astronaut for the Expedition 3 crew and worked with hardware integration and robotics.
Kotov, 44, is making his second spaceflight, having previously served six months aboard the station as an Expedition 15 flight engineer in 2007. Kotov will be a flight engineer for Expedition 22 and assume the duties of Expedition 23 commander when Williams and Suraev depart in March 2010.
Noguchi is making his second spaceflight. He flew on the STS-114 return-to-flight mission of Discovery in 2005 and conducted three spacewalks totaling more than 20 hours.