Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson, Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko and spaceflight participant Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor are in orbit and on their way to the International Space Station. Their Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome Wednesday at 9:22 a.m. EDT and entered orbit less than 10 minutes later. They will dock to the Earth-facing port of the station’s Zarya module on Friday about 10:52 a.m.
Image above: The Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft was transported by railcar to its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Oct. 8, 2007 for launch Oct. 10. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The Expedition 15 crew has been busy readying the station as they prepare to greet their replacements and Malaysian guest. Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineer Oleg Kotov set up a work space in the Zvezda service module that will allow the visiting Shukor to perform several experiments over nine days. Flight Engineer Clay Anderson also resized U.S. spacesuits for Whitson and Malenchenko for an upcoming spacewalk. The current station crew also held space-to-ground teleconferences with their Expedition 16 counterparts to assist with handover activities.
Yurchikhin and Kotov are scheduled to leave the station on Oct. 21 officially ending the Expedition 15 increment. Shukor will go home with the two cosmonauts. Anderson will remain onboard with Expedition 16 and return to Earth next month aboard Discovery on its STS-120 mission.
satellite tracking here 🙂