NASA, Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — It's a full house again at the International Space Station.
A Russian capsule carrying three astronauts from three countries docked at the orbiting lab on Thursday. The linkup ended a two-day trip for the Soyuz spacecraft that launched from Kazakhstan.
The three new tenants join three others already on board, all of whom will be part of history when NASA flies the shuttle for the last time. Atlantis is set to deliver one last shuttle load of supplies to the space station next month; liftoff is scheduled for July 8. The mission will end 30 years of shuttle flight.
Shuttle Endeavour just ended a two-week space station visit.
Arriving Thursday for a five-month stay were American Michael Fossum, Russian Sergey Volkov and Japanese Satoshi Furukawa. They join American Ronald Garan Jr. and Russians Andrey Borisenko, the commander, and Alexander Samokutyaev, who have been on board since April.
The rendezvous unfolded smoothly, despite a minor thruster problem with the Soyuz. The two craft came together nearly 220 miles above the Atlantic, northeast of Rio de Janeiro.
NASA's chief of space operations, Bill Gerstenmaier, watched the docking from Russian Mission Control outside Moscow. In response to a journalist's question, he said the first private space station delivery could come as early as November.
NASA is encouraging U.S. companies to take over cargo runs to the space station and, ultimately, provide rides for crews. In the meantime, American astronauts will continue to ride back and forth on Soyuz spacecraft at a cost of tens of millions of dollars a seat, as NASA turns its attention toward interplanetary travel.
- Winners and losers under Obama's immigration...
- Fact check: Obama's claims on illegal...
- 37 homes collapse, dozens injured in...
- Ice snarls Michigan roadways, airport runways
- Investigators may have recovered up to 30,000...
- Consumer group lists '10 worst toys' for kids
- Q&A with President Henry B. Eyring, Elder L....
- Obama immigration plan good, not great for...
- President Obama's immigration reforms... 65
- Utah members of Congress slam Obama's... 55
- Obama to announce immigration action... 30
- Pastors opposed to same-sex marriage... 30
- Q&A with President Henry B. Eyring,... 22
- Fact check: Obama's claims on illegal... 18
- President Obama's immigration speech... 14
- Boehner: 'We will not stand idle' on... 14