Expedition 31 crew members arrive at International Space Station

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Friday, May 18, 2012

The crew of Soyuz TMA-04M wave to spectators before boarding their International Space Station-bound rocket Tuesday.
Image: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

The Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft, which launched on Tuesday, arrived at the International Space Station yesterday with three members of the Expedition 31 long duration mission.

The Soyuz rocket launched on May 15 at 3:01:23 UTC (9:01:23 AM local time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On board were Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin, as well as NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba.

The Soyuz spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station on May 17, approximately two days after launch, at 4:36 UTC. After docking, the Soyuz crew joined fellow Expedition 31 crew members Oleg Kononenko, European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers, and NASA astronaut Donald Pettit, who wished Acaba a happy 45th birthday.

Kononenko, Kuipers, and Pettit are currently slated to return to Earth in early June, at which point Padalka, Revin and Acaba—the most recent additions to the ISS crew—will become members of Expedition 32. The trio are scheduled to be the only occupants of the space outpost until the arrival of the remainder of the Expedition 32 crew aboard Soyuz TMA-05M, currently slated for July 17.

During their time aboard the station, Padalka, Revin, and Acaba will perform research in ecology, medicine, and space technology. They are expected to remain aboard the International Space Station until mid-September, after which they will return to Earth to conclude a mission of approximately 125 days in space.