Soyuz safely docks with International Space Station

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2000: The international space station gets its first residents as American astronaut Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei K. Krikalev arrive aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule for a four-month stay.

A full staff is onboard the International Space Station on Friday after the holiday season arrival of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and three frontier explorers.

Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports with Roman Romanenko at the controls, the Soyuz docked on the Russian side of the space station at 9:09 a.m. as the spacecraft flew 255 miles above Kazakhstan.

Flying with Romanenko: U.S. astronaut Thomas Marshburn and Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency.

Already onboard the outpost: U.S. astronaut Kevin Ford and two Russian cosmonauts – Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin.

The arrival of the new crewmates came just in time for both traditional western and Russian Christmas holidays. Traditional western Christmas is next Tuesday; Russians celebrate Christmas in early January.

Marshburn said he is looking forward to spending the holiday season in space.

The six astronauts and cosmonauts comprise the complete crew of the 34th expedition to the station. The outpost has been staffed continuously since the first expedition crew boarded the station in November 2000.

Ford, Novitskiy and Tarelkin arrived at the outpost in October and have been working on their own since the last three members of the Expedition 33 crew returned to Earth in November.

Ford, Novitskiy and Tarelkin will live and work on the outpost until March. At that time, Ford will turn the helm of the outpost over to Hadfield, who will become the first Canadian to command a station expedition.

Hadfield, Marshburn and Romanenko will return to Earth in May.