ALMATY, Kazakhstan - A trio of astronauts traveling onboard a Russian-made Soyuz capsule has reached the International Space Station, two days after launching from the Baikonur cosmodrome in southern Kazakhstan.
NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, veteran Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide of Japan docked Tuesday slightly ahead of schedule at 08:51 a.m. Moscow time (0451 GMT). They will work at the orbiting laboratory until November.
CBS News space analyst William Harwood reports that after the Soyuz docked with the ISS' Rassvet module, the docking mechanism pulled the Soyuz snugly into place for extensive leak checks, standard procedure before hatches could be opened.
Not long after, the trio joined current station residents - Russians Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin, and U. S. astronaut Joe Acaba.
"Thanks Mike. It's great to be up here," said Williams. "It's great to see Joe, Gennady and Sergei, they welcomed us with open arms and we are ready to work as a six person crew."
The station, which orbits up to 410 kilometers (255 miles) above the Earth, is due to handle an unprecedented level of traffic.
Japan's HTV3 cargo ship will reach the station next week, the first of nine craft due to make contact with the orbiting satellite over a 17-day period.