Brazil's First Astronaut, Expedition 13 Crew Set to Dock at ISS
A Soyuz TMA-8 booster rocket blasts off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan,Thursday, March 30, 2006.
Credit: AP Photo/Misha Japaridze.

Three astronauts are bearing down on the International Space Station (ISS) after two days of orbital flight aboard a Russian spacecraft.


NASA will provide live coverage of the ISS Expedition 13 docking beginning at 10:00 p.m. EST. Click here.
Brazil's first astronaut Marcos Pontes and the two-person crew of ISS Expedition 13 are scheduled to dock their Soyuz TMA-8 spacecraft at the space station tonight at 11:19 pm. EST (0419 April 1 GMT). Hatch opening will occur 90 minutes later, NASA officials said.

The Expedition 13 astronauts have completed a series of navigation burns since their March 29 launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, each of which refined their route to the ISS, NASA said.

Expedition 13 commander Pavel Vinogradov, a cosmonaut with Russia's Federal Space Agency, is commanding the Soyuz trip to the ISS. NASA astronaut and science officer Jeffrey Williams is serving as flight engineer. The two astronauts will relieve the space station's current caretakers - Expedition 12 commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev - who have maintained the ISS since October 2005.

"Jeffrey Williams reported that he was feeling well and is looking forward to seeing his Expedition 12 counterparts tonight," NASA spokesperson Rob Navias said from Moscow.


Liftoff! Brazil's First Astronaut, Fresh ISS Crew Reach Orbit
Russian space agency officials added that Pontes, who will spend about eight days conducting experiments aboard the ISS before returning to Earth with the Expedition 12 crew on April 8, is also doing well.

"Pontes is successfully adjusting to spaceflight conditions," a Federal Space Agency spokesperson for mission's medical assistance group told the Russian news agency Interfax. "Of course, the doctors are paying more attention to him because it is his first time in space."

Pontes is flying to the ISS under an agreement between the Russian and Brazilian space agencies. He has been preparing for this spaceflight since joining NASA's cadre of international astronauts in 1998.

A communications glitch on the ground reportedly prevented Russian flight controllers from receiving telemetry from Expedition 13's Soyuz TMA-8 just after launch, Interfax reported today.

"Problems occurred in the ground control network. Several information transfer channels were disabled," Vladimir Solovyov, head of the Russian ISS Expedition 13 team, told Interfax Thursday. "The problem has now been fixed."

Solovyov also said that ground flight control communications Soyuz TMA-8 spacecraft was "restored in an emergency mode."  Only spacecraft telemetry data was affected by the glitch, with radio and television communications performing as expected, he added.

Tonight's Expedition 13 docking and hatch opening activities will be broadcast live on NASA TV beginning at about 10:00 p.m. EST (0300 April 1 GMT). You are invited to follow along with the Expedition 13 crew's progress using SPACE.com's NASA TV feed available here.