Brazil's First Astronaut, Expedition 13 Crew Set to Dock at ISS

Brazil’s First Astronaut, Fresh ISS Crew Reach Orbit
A Soyuz TMA-8 booster rocket blasts off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan,Thursday, March 30, 2006.
(Image: © AP Photo/Misha Japaridze.)

Threeastronauts are bearing down on the International Space Station (ISS) after twodays of orbital flight aboard a Russian spacecraft.

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TheExpedition 13 astronauts have completed a series of navigation burns sincetheir March 29 launchfrom Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, each of which refined their route tothe ISS, NASA said.

Expedition13 commander Pavel Vinogradov, a cosmonaut with Russia's Federal Space Agency,is commanding the Soyuz trip to the ISS. NASA astronaut and science officerJeffrey Williams is serving as flight engineer. The two astronauts will relievethe space station's current caretakers - Expedition12 commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev - who havemaintained the ISS since October2005.

"JeffreyWilliams reported that he was feeling well and is looking forward to seeing hisExpedition 12 counterparts tonight," NASA spokesperson Rob Navias said fromMoscow.

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"Pontes issuccessfully adjusting to spaceflight conditions," a Federal Space Agencyspokesperson for mission's medical assistance group told the Russian newsagency Interfax. "Of course, the doctors are paying more attention to himbecause it is his first time in space."

Pontes isflying to the ISS under an agreementbetween the Russian and Brazilian space agencies. He has been preparing forthis spaceflight since joining NASA's cadre of international astronauts in1998.

Acommunications glitch on the ground reportedly prevented Russian flightcontrollers from receiving telemetry from Expedition 13's Soyuz TMA-8 justafter launch, Interfax reported today.

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

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

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

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