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Expedition 18 crew docks with space station

The crew members of Expeditions 17 and 18 participate in an interview aboard the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA TV

WASHINGTON (BNS): The 18th International Space Station crew, including Commander Edward Michael "Mike" Fincke and Flight Engineer Yury Valentinovich Lonchakov, docked their Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft at 4.26am EDT on Tuesday. The spacecraft was docked to the Earth-facing port of the Zarya module.

According to a NASA, the hatches between the two spacecraft were opened at 5.55 am and a welcome ceremony and a safety briefing followed for the Expedition 18 crew.

The new crew took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3.01 am EDT on Sunday for a six-month stay.

The crew members include Fincke, an Air Force colonel, and Lonchakov, a colonel in the Russian Air Force. There is also space tourist Richard Garriott, flying under contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency.

Garriott will return to Earth with Expedition 17 crew members, Commander Sergei Volkov and Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko, in their Soyuz TMA-12 on October 23. The Expedition 17 was launched on April 8.

Expedition 17 crew astronaut Gregory E Chamitoff who joined the expedition in May this year  will provide Expedition 18 with an experienced flight engineer for the first part of its increment. He was launched to the station on the STS-124 mission of Discovery on May 31.

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