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 credit: AP Photo/Misha Japaridze.)

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

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.

"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's NASA TV feed available here.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.