2304 GMT (6:04 p.m. EST)
Welcome aboard! The newest residents are floating into the International Space Station from their Soyuz capsule for the formal ceremony. Also participating via a live communications linkup are the VIPs gathered on the balcony in Russia's mission control center outside Moscow.
The outpost's expanded Expedition 26 crew is comprised of three Russians, two Americans and an Italian.
2303 GMT (6:03 p.m. EST)
The hatchway between the Soyuz spacecraft and the station was opened at 6:02 p.m. EST following the successful completion of leak checks. The welcoming ceremony is expected to begin shortly when a live television downlink communications session starts.
2231 GMT (5:31 p.m. EST)
Mission Control says the final phase of leak checks is underway after a successful docking of the Soyuz spacecraft to the space station. Hatch opening is anticipated shortly. Watch live in our video stream.
2100 GMT (4:00 p.m. EST)
Live streaming video coverage will resume at 5:30 p.m. EST with the hatch opening and welcoming ceremony.
2020 GMT (3:20 p.m. EST)
The docking probe on the front of Soyuz has retracted, allowing the hooks and latches to close and form a seal between the capsule and station. Pressure and leak checks will be performed over the next orbit before the hatchway is opened for the crew to enter into the station later today.
2012 GMT (3:12 p.m. EST)
The docking occurred as the space station flew over western Africa at an altitude of 224 miles.
Over the next few minutes, the Soyuz docking probe will retract to allow hooks and latches to bring the spacecraft to a firm seal with the station. Hatches between the two vehicles will be opened around 6 p.m. EST.
2011 GMT (3:11 p.m. EST)
DOCKING. The Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft has docked to the Rassvet module of the space station, delivering NASA's Cady Coleman, Russian Dmitry Kondratyev and Italian Paolo Nespoli to the international outpost.
The new Expedition 26 residents join commander Scott Kelly, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka. They have been aboard the station since October 9.
2011 GMT (3:11 p.m. EST)
Range to docking inside 10 feet.
2011 GMT (3:11 p.m. EST)
The capsule is aligning with the docking target on the station inside the last 35 feet.
2010 GMT (3:10 p.m. EST)
Now 60 feet and closing. The capsule remains on course for docking.
2009 GMT (3:09 p.m. EST)
Soyuz has closed to within 100 feet from the station.
2008 GMT (3:08 p.m. EST)
The headlight on Soyuz has been turned on for this docking near orbital nighttime.
2007 GMT (3:07 p.m. EST)
The Soyuz and station are nearing an orbital sunset.
2007 GMT (3:07 p.m. EST)
The International Space Station will be this crew's orbital home for 150 days.
2006 GMT (3:06 p.m. EST)
Closing speed is throttling back as expect. Now 200 feet left to go.
2005 GMT (3:05 p.m. EST)
Now less than 250 feet to docking.
2004 GMT (3:04 p.m. EST)
The range between Soyuz and station is about 385 feet.
2003 GMT (3:03 p.m. EST)
With approval granted by the Russian flight control team, the Soyuz capsule has commenced final approach toward docking.
2000 GMT (3:00 p.m. EST)
About three minutes left in the planned stationkeeping. The capsule has drifted inward to about 490 feet.
1956 GMT (2:56 p.m. EST)
The Soyuz completed the flyaround to align with the docking port. It's now in the stationkeeping hold about 545 feet away while controllers verify all is in readiness for final approach.
1954 GMT (2:54 p.m. EST)
The capsule is completing a roll maneuver as part of the sequence to prepare for docking. Soyuz is about 670 feet away from the station now.
1953 GMT (2:53 p.m. EST)
A black and white video camera on the Soyuz is providing great footage of the space station during this maneuver. The distance has been cut to 700 feet.
1951 GMT (2:51 p.m. EST)
About 820 feet separate the two spacecraft as the Soyuz continues its intercept.
1949 GMT (2:49 p.m. EST)
Soyuz is within 1,200 feet of the station as the flyaround continues.
1947 GMT (2:47 p.m. EST)
The capsule is flying itself around the international outpost now to get into the approach corridor leading to the Rassvet module's docking port.
1943 GMT (2:43 p.m. EST)
Soyuz is completed braking maneuvers to dramatically slow its approach rate.
1939 GMT (2:39 p.m. EST)
Distance now three miles.
1937 GMT (2:37 p.m. EST)
The rendezvous sequence is progressing as planned this afternoon, Mission Control reports.
1933 GMT (2:33 p.m. EST)
The Soyuz is 4.7 miles from the space station, closing at 26 miles per hour.
1930 GMT (2:30 p.m. EST)
The Soyuz spacecraft is nearing the space station for docking about 42 minutes from now at 3:12 p.m. EST. You can watch live NASA Television coverage on this page.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2010
The Soyuz spacecraft carrying three new residents for the space station is scheduled for docking Friday at 3:12 p.m. EST (2012 GMT).
The automated rendezvous sequence aboard the Russian-built crew transport capsule will begin about 12:49 p.m. EST to control the activities via autopilot.
The day's first key engine firing is planned for 1:09 p.m. and another impulse is expected around 1:28 p.m. EST, followed within minutes by activation of the Kurs rendezvous equipment on both the Soyuz and space station to guide the linkup.
The two spacecraft should be within 60 miles of each other by 2 p.m., closing to less than 10 miles by 2:22 p.m.
The television camera on the nose of Soyuz will be turned on at 2:29 p.m. to provide views of the docking.
A series of maneuvers between 2:35 and 2:43 p.m. will dramatically slow the Soyuz's closure rate, ultimately leading to the spacecraft beginning a flyaround of the space station to align with the Rassvet module's docking port.
After a stationkeeping hold by the Soyuz to ensure all is in readiness for docking, the spacecraft will commence final approach at 3:03 p.m. for docking about 9 minutes later. Soyuz commander Dmitry Kondratyev will be standing by to take over manual flying of the spacecraft if required.
The linkup should occur at 3:12 p.m. EST, shortly before an orbital sunset and two days, 63 minutes after liftoff.
The hatch opening and welcoming ceremony aboard the station is expected around 6 p.m. EST.
1930 GMT (2:30 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 21 minutes. Soyuz is passing out of range from Russian ground stations. All indications show today's launch was fully successful with no problems reported by the crew or flight controllers.
1926 GMT (2:26 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 17 minutes. The crew has been given permission from Mission Control-Moscow to open its helmet visors and loosen the shoulder restraints.
1924 GMT (2:24 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 15 minutes. The crew is marching through the post-insertion orbital checklist.
1922 GMT (2:22 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 13 minutes. Coleman, Kondratyev and Nespoli have arrived in orbit following launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Activities upcoming over the next few hours include opening the hatchway into the capsule's living compartment where the crew can remove their spacesuits, pressurization of the Soyuz propellant tanks and two orbit adjustment maneuvers.
That pair of maneuvers later today will be followed by another one Thursday to put Soyuz on the proper trajectory for Friday's rendezvous and docking with the space station.
1919 GMT (2:19 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 10 minutes. The craft is completing a programmed sequence to deploy the power-generating solar arrays, as well as antennas for navigational and communication systems.
1918 GMT (2:18 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 9 minutes. CAPSULE SEPARATION! The Soyuz spacecraft is flying free after the upper stage finished its engine firing and then separated away. The capsule is in pursuit of the International Space Station for a planned docking Friday around 3:12 p.m. EST.
1917 GMT (2:17 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 8 minutes, 30 seconds. The crew reports all remains normal aboard the spacecraft.
1917 GMT (2:17 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 8 minutes. About a minute remains in the propulsion by the upper stage. The motor consumes kerosene and liquid oxygen just like the Soyuz rocket's other powerplants.
1916 GMT (2:16 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 7 minutes. The four-nozzle engine of the upper stage continues to burn to inject the spacecraft into orbit.
1915 GMT (2:15 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 6 minutes, 30 seconds. The space station's current residents -- Scott Kelly, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka -- are watching a live stream of the launch being uplinked to the outpost.
1915 GMT (2:15 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 6 minutes. Soyuz's upper stage is firing to propel the spacecraft into a stable orbit around Earth.
1914 GMT (2:14 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 5 minutes. The core stage of the Soyuz rocket has shut down and separated, leaving the upper stage to complete the job of injecting the Soyuz capsule into orbit.
1913 GMT (2:13 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes. The core motor continues to fire on its propellant mixture of kerosene fuel and supercold liquid oxygen.
1912 GMT (2:12 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 3 minutes. The safety escape tower and launch shroud have been jettisoned from the atop the Soyuz capsule.
1911 GMT (2:11 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes, 15 seconds. The four strap-on boosters clustered around the Soyuz rocket's main stage have burned out and separated. The core motor continues to fire.
1910 GMT (2:10 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 60 seconds. Good performance one minute into this ascent for the Soyuz rocket and its three-person crew from the Kazakh launch base. Flight engineer Paolo Nespoli is strapped into the left-hand seat, Dmitry Kondratyev is in the center seat for his role as the Soyuz commander and NASA astronaut Cady Coleman is in the right-hand seat.
1909 GMT (2:09 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 30 seconds. The Soyuz is heading on course for a rendezvous with the space station 49 hours from now. The station currently is flying about 225 miles above the southern Atlantic Ocean.
1909:25 GMT (2:09:25 p.m. EDT)
LIFTOFF! Liftoff of the Soyuz rocket carrying a crew from three countries to the International Space Station!
1908 GMT (2:08 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 35 seconds. The first umbilical arm has separated from Soyuz. The second will retract in the next few seconds.
1908 GMT (2:08 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 1 minute and counting. The Soyuz has been placed on internal power.
1907 GMT (2:07 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 2 minutes and counting. Rocket propellant tank pressurization is underway. The vehicle's onboard measurement system is activated. Oxidizer and fuel drain and safety valves of the launch vehicle have been closed.
1906 GMT (2:06 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 3 minutes and counting. The nitrogen purge of the combustion chambers of side and central engine pods of the rocket is being performed in preparation for ignition.
1905 GMT (2:05 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 4 minutes. The launch key has been inserted in the bunker for liftoff.
1904 GMT (2:04 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 5 minutes and counting. Systems of the Soyuz have switched to onboard control, the ground measurement system and the Soyuz commander's controls are being activated.
1903 GMT (2:03 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 6 minutes. The automatic program for final launch operations is being initiated.
1901 GMT (2:01 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 8 minutes and counting. The crew has closed its helmet visors.
1859 GMT (1:59 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 10 minutes. The crew inside the Soyuz capsule are starting recorders to collect data during launch.
1857 GMT (1:57 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 12 minutes and counting. The Soyuz telemetry systems are being activated. They will relay real-time data back to Earth during today's launch.
1852 GMT (1:52 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 17 minutes. Now in the launch count, realignment of the Soyuz rocket's trajectory control system and checks of internal batteries should be complete. The Soyuz telemetry system will soon be activated and monitoring of Soyuz's thermal control system also will begin.
1849 GMT (1:49 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 20 minutes and counting. Recent activities scheduled in the countdown have included a leak check of the crew's Sokol spacesuits and arming of the Soyuz emergency escape system that would pull the capsule to safety if a problem develops.
1839 GMT (1:39 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 30 minutes. Retraction of the two-piece service structure that has enclosed the Soyuz rocket during its stay at the launch pad is occurring as the towers rotate to a horizontal position. Several other umbilical arms connecting the rocket to the ground will be retracted at various times later in the countdown.
1829 GMT (1:29 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 40 minutes and counting. The three-stage Soyuz rocket will insert the 15,800-pound space capsule into a 143 by 118 mile orbit, inclined 51.6 degrees to the equator.
1824 GMT (1:24 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 45 minutes. The launch weather outlook at Baikonur includes overcast skies and sub-freezing temperatures. The earlier forecast of snow hasn't materialized.
1820 GMT (1:20 p.m. EDT)
Flight engineer Cady Coleman, 50, was born in Charleston, South Carolina. The retired Air Force colonel is a chemist with a polymer science doctorate from the University of Massachusetts.
Selected as a NASA astronaut in 1992, she flew as a mission specialist on two space shuttle flights aboard Columbia in 1995 and 1999. The first trip, STS-73, carried the U.S. Microgravity Laboratory to conduct dozens of experiments for 16 days. The followup five-day flight, STS-93, deployed the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.
Read her full bio.
1810 GMT (1:10 p.m. EDT)
Dmitry Kondratyev, 41, is commander of the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft and will become commander of the Expedition 27 mission aboard the International Space Station in the spring.
Born in Irkutsk, Kondratyev graduated as a pilot-engineer from Kachinsk Air Force Pilot School and later attended the Moscow State University where he was educated as an economist. Joining the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center as a candidate, he completed basic study in 2000 and was qualified as a cosmonaut. This will be the Russian air force colonel's first spaceflight.
Read his full bio.
1800 GMT (1:00 p.m. EDT)
Flight engineer Paolo Nespoli, 53, is a native of Milan, Italy. He is making his second trip to the International Space Station for the European Space Agency following the STS-120 mission aboard the shuttle Discovery that delivered the Harmony connecting module in 2007.
Nespoli holds degrees in aerospace engineering, aeronautics and astronautics, served in the Italian army and became a master parachutist. He has been a member of Europe's astronaut corps since 1998.
Read his full bio.
1749 GMT (12:49 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 80 minutes. The Soyuz rocket is fueled, the crew is aboard the Soyuz and the countdown is progressing toward liftoff of the space station's Expedition 26 crew from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
1740 GMT (12:40 p.m. EDT)
Video highlights of the Soyuz crew's launch day activities are beginning to air in the streaming video.
1720 GMT (12:20 p.m. EDT)
Crowds of well-wishers gathered to wave goodbye as the crew as Coleman, Kondratyev and Nespoli reached the launch pad. An elevator took the trio up to the capsule-level of the tower to begin climbing aboard the cramped spacecraft.
1650 GMT (11:50 a.m. EST)
The three-person crew donned the white Sokol launch and entry suits, met with officials from their respective space agencies and have departed for the launch pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome.
1500 GMT (10:00 a.m. EDT)
NASA's Cady Coleman, Russian Dmitry Kondratyev and Italian Paolo Nespoli were awakened a few hours ago to begin launch day activities. They have undergo medical tests, had a pre-launch meal, signed the doors at crew quarters and received religious blessings before boarding a bus that's currently driving the three crewmates the 25-mile distance into the cosmodrome.
Watch this page for continuing updates and a live launch webcast.
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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2010
A Russian Soyuz rocket is poised for launch Wednesday on a two-day flight to ferry three fresh crew members to the International Space Station. Liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is targeted for 2:09:25 p.m. EST (GMT-5), roughly the moment Earth's rotation carries the pad into the plane of the space station's orbit.
At the controls in the Soyuz TMA-20's center seat will be commander Dmitri "Dima" Kondratyev, assisted by Paolo Nespoli, an Italian astronaut with the European Space Agency who flew aboard the space shuttle in 2007.
Seated in the capsule's right seat will be Catherine "Cady" Coleman, a mother and retired Air Force colonel who flew aboard the shuttle in 1995 and 1999 and holds a doctorate in polymer science and engineering. She celebrated her 50th birthday Tuesday.
Read our full story.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2010
Rolling out to Gagarin's launch pad on a bitterly cold December morning, the next Soyuz rocket now stands poised for Wednesday's blastoff carrying Russian, American and Italian crewmates on their journey to the International Space Station.
The Soyuz TMA-20 capsule and its three-stage booster traveled by rail from the final assembly building to the Baikonur Cosmodrome pad at dawn today.
NASA's Cady Coleman, Russia's Dmitry Kondratyev and the European Space Agency's Paolo Nespoli will ride the rocket into orbit Wednesday, launching at 2:09 p.m. EST (1909 GMT). They are headed for a Friday arrival at the space station with docking around 3:12 p.m. EST (2012 GMT).
Read our photo gallery.