Outgoing space station commander Randy Bresnik, joined by Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy and European Space Agency flight engineer Paolo Nespoli, returned to Earth early Thursday after nearly five months in orbit. Their Soyuz MS-05 capsule undocked from the International Space Station at 12:14 a.m. EST (0514 GMT), and landed on the steppe of Kazakhstan at 3:37 a.m. EST (0837 GMT).
Three fresh crew members lifted off at 1541 GMT (11:41 a.m. EDT) Friday on a six-hour trip to the International Space Station, riding a Soyuz spaceship from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The trio hails from Russia, the United States and Italy and boosted the station’s crew back to a full complement of six. Docking occurred at 2154 GMT (5:54 p.m. EDT).
Launch of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft Friday carrying three fresh crew members to the International Space Station will boost the lab’s crew back to six and, most important from NASA’s perspective, dramatically boost research with four crew members — three NASA astronauts and a veteran European flier — available to operate experiments in the American segment of the laboratory.