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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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