Following their successful launch Thursday morning, local time, the three astronauts comprising Expedition 13 to the International Space Station are on schedule to rendezvous with the orbiting facility late Friday, NASA mission controllers reported.
Russian comm'er Pavel Vinogradov, NASA flight engineer Jeffrey Williams, ' Brazilian astronaut Marcos Pontes reached orbit in their Soyuz spacecraft in about 10 minutes after liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Russian flight controllers reported the spacecraft's solar arrays had deployed as scheduled, ' all systems appeared to be operating normally.
The Soyuz is scheduled to dock with the station at 12:19 a.m. Eastern Time on April 1.
Pontes, the first Brazilian to go into space, is flying under contract with Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency. He will spend about eight days on the station, before returning to Earth with Expedition 12 crew members Bill McArthur ' Valery Tokarev, who have been living on the station since last October.
They are scheduled to undock at 4:28 p.m. Eastern Time April 8, in the Soyuz that brought them to the station. They are scheduled to l' at 7:46 p.m. ET in the steppes of Kazakhstan.
Vinogradov is a veteran of a 198-day mission aboard the Russian space station Mir, where he conducted five spacewalks. Williams, an Army colonel, flew on STS-101 aboard shuttle Atlantis in May 2000, ' conducted one spacewalk.
Later this year, Thomas Reiter, an ESA astronaut from Germany, will join Vinogradov ' Williams aboard the station. Reiter also will fly under a Roscosmos contract, ' is scheduled to arrive at the station on shuttle Discovery's STS-121 mission, set for no earlier than July.
Reiter would be the first non-Russian, non-U.S. long-duration crewmember on station. With his arrival, the station crew will increase to three members for the first time since May 2003, in the wake of the shuttle Columbia accident.
Shortly after their arrival, McArthur ' Tokarev will brief Vinogradov ' Williams on station safety procedures, ' then will begin extensive h'over briefings, including training on the station's Canadarm2 remote arm, ' on the facility's systems ' experiments.
The Expedition 13 crew is scheduled to conduct two spacewalks, one by Williams ' Reiter in U.S. spacesuits ' the other by Vinogradov ' Williams in Russian spacesuits.
Vinogradov, Williams ' Reiter are then scheduled to remain aboard the station until September, when ISS Expedition 14 is expected, including NASA comm'er Michael Lopez-Alegria ' two flight engineers: Mikhail Tyurin from Russian ' NASA's Sunita Williams.