By Arun Kumar
Washington, (IANS) Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams, who holds the record of the longest space flight (195 days) for a woman, arrived at her new home amid stars with an international cast of crew for another four-month stay.
Williams along with Russian astronaut Yuri Malenchenko and Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide docked their Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft to the Rassvet module of the International Space Station at 10:21 a.m. India time Tuesday after two days in orbit, NASA announced.
The hatches between the Soyuz and the Rassvet module opened Tuesday at 12:53 p.m. India time when the trio entered the ISS, the US space agency said.
Expedition 32 commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineers Joe Acaba and Sergei Revin greeted their new crewmates. The six-member crew conducted a welcoming ceremony with family and mission officials then participated in a safety briefing.
The docking occured 37 years to the day after the first ever docking of American and Russian spacecraft during the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission.
The Soyuz spacecraft carrying the trio blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8.40 am Sunday (8.10 am India Time).
Daughter of an Indian American father from Gujarat and a Slovenian mother, Williams holds three records for female space travellers: longest spaceflight (195 days), number of spacewalks (four), and total time spent on spacewalks (29 hours and 17 minutes) during her first space journey in 2006.
She is the second woman of Indian heritage to have been selected by NASA for a space mission after Kalpana Chawla and the second astronaut of Slovenian heritage after Ronald M. Sega.