June 8 (UPI) — The Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft carrying a pair of astronauts and a cosmonaut successfully docked outside the International Space Station’s Rassvet module at 9:01 a.m. ET Friday.
The docking was expected to happen at about 9:07 a.m., but the craft arrived a few mixtures early.
NASA TV provided live coverage of the arrival and docking.
At roughly 11:05 a.m., the Soyuz craft’s hatch will be opened and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos, Serena Auñón-Chancellor of ESA and Alexander Gerst of NASA will be welcomed onto the space station. NASA TV coverage of the hatch opening will begin at 10:30 a.m.
The trio of astronauts have been traveling through space — taking wider and wider circles around Earth — since Wednesday morning, when they successfully launched into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
“The crew will orbit Earth 34 times before the spacecraft’s arrival and docking,” NASA announced in an update earlier this week.
Those orbits have been completed. Now, the crew is waiting to deboard and enter the space station.
Once the new trio is aboard, ISS will host a six-person crew. The newcomers will join Commander Drew Feustel, flight engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA and flight engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscomos.
This week, while awaiting the arrival of the Soyuz craft, Feustel and Arnold are preparing for next week’s space walk. On Thursday, the duo will spend several hours outside the space station installing high-definition television cameras and wireless communications gear.
“The new cameras will improve the view of approaching commercial crew vehicles for dockings in the future,” NASA announced Thursday. “The new wireless equipment will enable data transmission from payloads mounted on the outside of the Columbus and Kibo modules.”