International Space Station Welcomes New Crew

Posted November 16th, 2011 at 5:25 am (UTC-5)
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A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying an American and two Russians has docked with the International Space Station .

The hatch between the Soyuz TMA-22 and the ISS opened Wednesday to welcome new crew members for the first time since NASA retired the space shuttle program in July.

The Soyuz carrying the new three-man crew launched Monday from a snowy Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The mission had been delayed two months due to safety concerns following the August crash of a Soyuz cargo rocket.

The six crew members will have less than one week together before the the current ISS crew returns to Kazakhstan November 22. The new crew is scheduled for a March 2012 return to Earth.

The next scheduled launch bound for the ISS is December 21.

The Russian space program has experienced several mishaps in recent months. An August 24 unmanned launch attempt experienced a catastrophic failure.

Russia has likely lost the Phobos-Grunt Mars probe, which failed to leave Earth's orbit after Wednesday's launch. Experts continue efforts to re-establish a proper trajectory and send the wayward spacecraft onward to Mars.