April 1, 2006

Katherine Trinidad
Headquarters, Washington
(202) 358-3749

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston
(281) 483-5111



A new crew pulled into port at the International Space Station late
Friday to start a six-month mission.

With Expedition 13 and Soyuz Commander Pavel Vinogradov at the
controls, the Soyuz TMA-8 spacecraft automatically linked up to the
Earth-facing port on the station’s Zarya module at 11:19 p.m. EST
Friday. The spacecraft were above China near the Russian, Kazakh and
Mongolian borders at the time.

Aboard the Soyuz with Vinogradov were NASA Flight Engineer and Science
Officer Jeff Williams and Brazilian Space Agency astronaut Marcos
Pontes. Pontes will spend eight days on the complex under a
commercial agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency.

After systems checks, hatches between the Soyuz and the station were
opened at 12:59 a.m. EST Saturday. Expedition 12 Commander Bill
McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev, nearing the end of their
six-month mission on the station, greeted their colleagues with
handshakes and hugs and offered the traditional bread and salt.
Russian, American and Brazilian dignitaries viewed the docking from
the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev, outside Moscow, and
congratulated the crews after hatch opening.

The new crew will now transfer cargo from the Soyuz to the station,
deactivate the new Soyuz’ systems and stow their launch and entry
suits. Pontes will move his custom-made seatliner into the older
Soyuz TMA-7 spacecraft that will bring him home, and he will begin
several experiments. The two station crews will continue handover
activities throughout the week, including robotics training with the
station arm and detailed briefings on scientific experiments.
Vinogradov and Williams will remain on board the station until

All five astronauts and cosmonauts will participate in a news
conference at 10:55 a.m. EDT Monday. NASA Television will broadcast
this event live.

Monday night, McArthur and Williams will “camp out” in the Quest
airlock. They will sleep in the airlock, isolated from Tokarev,
Vinogradov and Pontes, to test a new procedure that may reduce the
preparation time for spacewalks. The new procedure will have
spacewalkers stay in the airlock overnight at a lower air pressure to
help purge nitrogen from their bodies to prevent decompression
sickness. McArthur and Williams will begin their airlock stay at
about 6:20 p.m. EDT Monday and finish at 3:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday.

McArthur, Tokarev and Pontes will leave the station aboard the Soyuz
TMA-7 and land April 8.

Information on the crew’s activities aboard the space station, future
launch dates, as well as station sighting opportunities from anywhere
on the Earth, are available at:

The next status report will be issued on Friday, April 7, or earlier
if events warrant.


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