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Station Crew Takes Breather After Launch, Docking
Astronauts Karen Nyberg and Chris Cassidy

Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg (left) works with a stowage bag aboard the International Space Station while Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy floats through the module. Credit: NASA TV

Following Tuesday’s launch and arrival of three new crew members, the entire six-person Expedition 36 crew aboard the International Space Station enjoyed some time off Wednesday to catch up on sleep and transition back to its normal schedule.

The Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft carrying Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin, Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:31 p.m. EDT Tuesday (2:31 a.m. Wednesday, Baikonur time) and docked with the station’s Rassvet module at 10:10 p.m. while the two spacecraft were flying over the South Pacific. This marked only the second time a crew has arrived at the station less than a day after launch. Previously, the standard time from launch to docking was two days.

› View video of launch
› View video of docking

After the hatches opened at 12:14 a.m. Wednesday, the new trio was welcomed aboard by Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineers Alexander Misurkin and Chris Cassidy, who launched and docked with the station aboard their Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft on March 28. The newly constituted six-person crew then moved into the station’s Zvezda service module to take a congratulatory call from spaceflight officials and family members gathered in Baikonur. Traditionally these calls initiated from the balcony of the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev near Moscow, but with the single day launch and docking the crew members can get to the orbiting space station faster than their launch guests can fly from Baikonur to Moscow.

› View video of hatch opening
› Read more about the launch and docking

The Expedition 36 crew will kick off its first full workday as a six-person crew Thursday following the standard 2 a.m. wakeup time. The station’s residents are scheduled to unpack cargo from the ISS Progress 51 resupply ship and the newly arrived Soyuz and continue setting up the new treadmill in the Russian segment of the station. Cassidy will spend some time working with an experiment known as Burning And Suppression of Solids, or BASS, which studies how a variety of solid materials burn and extinguish in microgravity. Nyberg meanwhile will conduct a leak check of the nitrogen gas supply line to the Multi-purpose Small Payload Rack’s combustion chamber.

› Read more about BASS

› Read more about Expedition 36