Expedition 19 Crew Docks with Space Station

March 30, 2009,
The Expedition 18 and 19 crew members participate in a welcome ceremony aboard the International Space Station. (Photo Credit: NASA TV)

Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Michael Barratt of the 19th International Space Station crew docked their Soyuz TMA-14 to the International Space Station at 9:05 a.m. EDT Saturday.

Hatches between the two spacecraft opened at 12:36 p.m. A welcome ceremony and a safety briefing soon follow after a new crew arrives at the station.

The new crew launched from the in Kazakhstan at 7:49 a.m. EDT Thursday to begin a six-month stay in space.

With Padalka and Barratt is second-time spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi, flying under contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency. Simonyi previously flew to the station in April 2007 as a spaceflight participant with the Expedition 15 crew.

Simonyi will return to Earth with Expedition 18 crew members, Commander Mike Fincke and Yury Lonchakov, in their Soyuz TMA-13 on April 7. Expedition 18 launched to the station Oct. 12.

Aboard the station to welcome Expedition 19 crew members was the Expedition 18 Commander Mike Fincke and Yury Lonchakov, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata. Wakata launched to the station on the STS-119 mission of Discovery March 15. He joined Expedition 18 in progress and will provide Expedition 19 with an experienced flight engineer for its increment.

Padalka, a colonel in the Russian Air Force, will command the Expedition 19 mission and also serve as Soyuz commander. He previously served as commander of Expedition 9 in 2004. During Padalka's first stay at the , he performed four spacewalks.

Barratt will serve as a flight engineer for Expedition 19. He served as lead crew surgeon for the first Expedition crew to the station from July 1998 until he was selected as an astronaut candidate. This is his first spaceflight.

Wakata will serve as a flight engineer for Expeditions 18, 19 and 20. Wakata will be the first resident station crew member from JAXA. He will return to Earth on STS-127.

Provided by JPL/NASA (news : web)

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