Houston TX (SPX) Dec 17, 2010
Flight Engineers Dmitry Kondratyev, Catherine Coleman and Paolo Nespoli are on their way to the International Space Station after a successful launch aboard their Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazkhstan. They are set to dock to the station's Rassvet mini-research module Friday at 3:12 p.m. EST.
Communications between the Mission Control Center in Moscow and the Soyuz were briefly disrupted Thursday afternoon. Communication has been restored, and the crew never was in danger.
MCC-M has limited contact with Soyuz only over Russian ground stations, and some of the communications passes were disrupted because a cut cable between Moscow and Russian ground sites prevented voice communications, command and some telemetry data from being relayed. The ground stations always had communications with the Soyuz, and Mission Control was able to call the ground sites and gain communications with the Soyuz.
At 2:48 p.m. the Soyuz crew completed the DV-3 burn to adjust its trajectory toward the station. The crew reported the burn was normal, and Mission Control confirmed it was a good burn.
After the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened, the crew members will participate in a traditional greeting ceremony, talk to family and officials on the ground then be briefed on station safety procedures.
The station's current residents, Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka, conducted scientific research, performed maintenance tasks and enjoyed some off-duty time while waiting for their new crewmates' arrival.
Kelly spent much of his day working with the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) experiment as part of the SPHERES Zero Robotic Competition.
The competition uses algorithms written by high school students for the SPHERES satellites to accomplish tasks relevant to future space missions. The algorithms were tested by the SPHERES team and the best designs were selected for the competition.
Kaleri and Skripochka worked in the Russian segment of the station performing scheduled maintenance and monitoring its environmental and life support systems.
During his stay aboard the station, Kelly will post some of his photographs of Earth on Twitter for an online geography trivia game.
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