The pilots shifted to manual distance-operated control several minutes before the docking. "Docked!" cried a Mission Control Center officer on duty to the applause of pilots' wives and ISS program bosses, RIA Novosti correspondent reports from the Center.
The new crew, Russia's Salizhan Sharipov and Leroy Chiao of the United States, will stay at the station for 180 days. They are relieving Russian Gennady Padalka and American Michael Fincke. Accompanying the crew for a shorter mission is Yuri Shargin, the first to represent the Russian Space Troops at the ISS.
The 10th crew will emerge into open space on two occasions, Sharipov said before Soyuz takeoff.
An initial venture is scheduled for late December to equip an all-purpose post on the outer surface of the Russian station segment, complete with aerials and a video camera. The next outing, toward February's end, envisages works on the Russian docking unit for an installation necessary to dock a new European cargo ship. Named "Jules Verne", it will be launched shortly before New Year. The pilots will be wearing Orlan M spacesuits of Russian design and manufacture on both ventures.
The first has been scheduled for December 28, the second February 21, as far as Novosti knows.
The permanent ISS crew will stage a medical experiment to promote research for an AIDS medicine. "We are mere hands to work on order of an Earth-based thinktank," Sharipov modestly remarked. "Don't think we are to make a HIV vaccine-we shall only provide conditions for a test. We have capsules with us to take them to the station. Once there, we shall mix substances they contain, and watch what becomes of them in required temperatures. The results will appear much later on Earth not in space."
Sharipov, Chiao and Shargin have scanty personal possessions with them. "A kilo and 800 grams is ceiling weight of our luggage," Sharipov said to newsmen. "My family's snapshots, several music recordings, and the coat-of-arms of Bishkek, my home town [capital of Kyrgyzstan], is all I have with me."
NASA's Leroy Chiao has an even smaller luggage-the photos of his near and dear, and a wedding ring, he said.
As for Yuri Shargin, he is carrying a set of family snapshots, a Space Troops pennant, and two tiny flags-Russia's and Moscow's.