The Soyuz spacecraft and the Expedition One crew drew closer to their home in space - the International Space Station - following two rendezvous burns earlier today. Also the Progress supply vehicle was undocked from the station, freeing the aft port on the Zvezda module to which the Soyuz will dock at 3:24 a.m. CST, Thursday.
The first full day on orbit for the crew, which includes Commander Bill Shepherd, Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev, included continued checkout of systems onboard as well as a handheld laser device that will assist in providing accurate distance of the Soyuz to the station.
The Progress supply vehicle, docked at the station since August, was commanded to undock at 10:02 p.m. CST on Tuesday and performed a deorbit burn two orbits later at 1:05 a.m. It reentered the atmosphere and burned up above the Southern Pacific Ocean between the Fiji and Solomon Islands.
Shortly after, Gidzenko maneuvered the Soyuz into position for a small 1.3 meter per second orbital correction burn lasting 3 seconds. The second rendezvous burn took place at 7:39 a.m. The resulting altitude from these maneuvers was 170 by 151 statute miles (275 by 243 kilometers). As of this morning, the Soyuz trailed the ISS by about 5,300 statute miles and is closing in at a rate of about 709 miles every orbit of the Earth.
During an early morning communication pass, Shepherd's wife, Beth, who also is his physical trainer, greeted him and his two Russian colleagues from the Mission Control Center in Korolev. He also received greetings from European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang on behalf of the U.S. team of flight controllers in Moscow that make up the Houston Support Group.
The crew turned in for the day at about 9 a.m., and will awaken tonight to begin the rendezvous and docking activities. The automated rendezvous sequence will begin at about 1 a.m. CST Thursday. The first of several rendezvous maneuvers is scheduled for 1:25 a.m. About 2:57 a.m., the Soyuz will perform a flyaround of the station and begin station-keeping about 500 feet at 3:06 a.m. The final approach is set to begin at 3:15 a.m., with docking at 3:24 a.m. CST.
Flight controllers in Houston continue to prepare the station for the arrival of its first live-aboard crew. Coverage of the Expedition One crew's voyage to the International Space Station will continue on NASA TV and through live video streaming on the Internet at http://spaceflight.nasa.gov.
All systems aboard the Soyuz spacecraft are in excellent shape since its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan yesterday and the space station remains in good condition. The next status report will be issued about 8 p.m. Wednesday, or as events warrant.
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