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Sunita Williams, colleagues reach International Space Station

Houston, Jul 17: A cheerful Sunita Williams and two of her colleagues today successfully docked their Soyuz capsule with the International Space Station for a four-month scientific mission, two days after the record-setting Indian-American astronaut

PTI Updated on: July 17, 2012 21:04 IST
sunita williams colleagues reach international space station
sunita williams colleagues reach international space station

Houston, Jul 17: A cheerful Sunita Williams and two of her colleagues today successfully docked their Soyuz capsule with the International Space Station for a four-month scientific mission, two days after the record-setting Indian-American astronaut blasted off for her second space odyssey. 





46-year-old NASA astronaut Williams, Russian Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency flight engineer Akihiko Hoshide arrived at the ISS after two days in orbit aboard Russian-made Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft, which took off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in southern Kazakhstan on Sunday.

“Everything is perfect,” Malenchenko radioed Russia's Mission Control Centre in Korolev after joining three astronauts who have been on the space station since May.  The Soyuz capsule docked automatically with the Rassvet module at around 10:21 IST.

The hatches between the Soyuz and the Rassvet module was opened at 0723 GMT (12:53 IST) and Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineers Joe Acaba and Sergei Revin greeted their new crewmates.

“The six-member crew conducted a welcoming ceremony with family and mission officials then participated in a safety briefing,” NASA said in a statement.

“It feels great. It is just like a homecoming,” Malenchenko said, adding that, “We can see right away that some things have changed. But (the station) is in great shape and the crew looks great. We are happy to be here.”

This is the second space mission for Williams. She also holds the record of the longest spaceflight -- 195 days—for woman space travellers.

Williams and two of her colleagues, who will return home in mid-November, are expected to conduct over 30 scientific missions during their stay aboard the ISS.  

In the space, Williams and her team of astronauts also plan an orbital sporting event to mark the Summer Olympics in London.

The six crew members will work together for about two months.

Acaba, Padalka and Revin are scheduled to return to Earth on September 17. Before they depart, Padalka will hand over command of the station and Expedition 33 to Williams.

Williams, whose father hails from Gujarat, was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1998.  She was assigned to the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 14 and then joined Expedition 15. She received a Master's degree from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1995.

“I'm just looking forward to seeing the full capability of the space station, it's an experiment, not only the things that we're doing inside but also all the engineering that has gone into allowing us to dock new vehicles, do space walks, Russian and US. So, it's a pretty complicated vehicle now and I'm looking forward to being part of it,” Williams said recently.
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