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ISS Suffers Population Explosion

Six, Count 'em, SIX Astros Working On Board Now

It's getting kinda cozy up in orbit... at least as far as the International Space station is concerned. The Expedition 28 crew of the International Space Station enjoyed a day off Friday to catch up on some much-needed rest following the arrival of three new flight engineers Thursday evening aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Following a flawless launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, NASA astronaut Mike Fossum, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa docked their Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft to the station’s Rassvet module at 5:18 p.m. EDT Thursday.

The trio joined their Expedition 28 crewmates when the hatches between the Soyuz and the station opened at 8:34 p.m. .Commander Andrey Borisenko and Flight Engineers Ron Garan and Alexander Samokutyaev, who arrived at the station April 6, welcomed the three new flight engineers aboard their orbital home.

Volkov is a station veteran on his second long-term space mission. His first was as Expedition 17 commander in 2008. Fossum visited the space station twice aboard space shuttle Discovery and, performed a total of six spacewalks during STS-121 in 2006 and STS-124 in 2008. Furukawa is conducting his first spaceflight mission.

The six-person Expedition 28 crew will continue the uninterrupted presence of humans on the station since Nov. 2, 2000, conducting expanded scientific research and station maintenance activities.

The station’s residents also will welcome the crew of the last space shuttle flight, Atlantis' STS-135 mission, targeted to launch July 8. The shuttle will deliver critical supplies in the Italian-built Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module and support spacewalks by Fossum and Garan to retrieve a failed cooling system pump module, which Atlantis will return to Earth for analysis

Expedition 28 officially began May 23 when the Expedition 27 crew undocked while space shuttle Endeavour and the STS-134 crew were at the station. Expedition 27 crew members Dmitry Kondratyev, Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli landed in Kazakhstan after 159 days in space.

Nespoli took photographs and video of Endeavour docked to the station from the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft. The imagery and video are the first taken of a shuttle docked to the station from the perspective of a Soyuz spacecraft.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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