An operation of clutching the International Space Station (ISS) securely with the Russian Soyuz-TMA-2 spaceship, which has been linked up with it, is underway in orbit, a RIA Novosti correspondent was told at the Mission Control Center.
The Soyuz TMA-2 spaceship has carried to the space station a crew of the 7th regular expedition - Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, commander of the crew, and U.S. astronaut Edward Lu, a flight engineer. The new crew is to replace the 6th regular expedition, which has spent half a year in the ISS, and to maintain the station's serviceability during the next six months. Moreover, the crew will conduct medico-biological, and physico-technological experiments.
After 1.5 hours of flight in the regime of securing the docking of the ISS with the spaceship, the crew on board the spaceship will open hatches on Monday at about 11:30 /Moscow Time/ and meet with the crew of the space station.
The 7th expedition has brought to the ISS about 2 tons of fuel, and also food, water and oxygen. The new crewmen have brought presents for Russian cosmonaut Nikolai Budarin, who will turn 50 on April 29. Both crews will celebrate Budarin's anniversary in orbit.
Both crews will work at the station together for a few days, and then at the beginning of May the sixth regular expedition - Russian cosmonaut Nikolai Budarin and U.S. astronauts Kenneth Bowersox and Donald Pettit - will leave the station and return to Earth, a RIA Novosti correspondent was told by Valery Lyndin, an expert at the mission control center.