CORRECTED-International crew of three reaches orbiting space station

Irene Klotz
Reuters Middle East

(Corrects spelling of Baikonur in 2d paragraph)

* Hadfield to be first Canadian to command ISS

* Two spacewalks, some 150 experiments on crew's agenda

* Station returned to full staff of six

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. Dec 21 (Reuters) - A Russian Soyuz

capsule carrying a multinational crew of three arrived at the

International Space Station on Friday, setting the stage for a

Canadian for the first time to take command of the orbital

research base.

The spacecraft carrying Chris Hadfield from the Canadian

Space Agency, NASA's Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman

Romanenko blasted off from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome on

Wednesday and parked at the station's Rassvet docking module at

9:09 a.m. EST (1409 GMT) as the ships sailed 255 miles (410 km)

above northern Kazakhstan.

"The Soyuz sleigh has pulled into port at the International

Space Station with a holiday gift of three new crewmembers,"

said NASA mission commentator Rob Navias.

The trio joined station commander Kevin Ford and Russian

cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeni Tarelkin, who are two

months into a planned six-month mission.

Ford is due to turn over command of the $100 billion

research complex, a project of 15 nations, in mid-March to

Hadfield, who will become the first Canadian to lead a space


"This is a big event for me personally," Hadfield said in a

preflight interview. "It takes a lot of work, a lot of focus.

It's something that I can look back on as an accomplishment and

a threshold of my life."

Command of the station, which has been continuously occupied

since November 2000, typically rotates between an American and a

Russian crewmember.

In 2009, Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne broke that cycle

to become the first European Space Agency commander. Japan's

Koichi Wakata is training to lead the Expedition 39 crew in

March 2014.

All three of the station's new residents have made previous

spaceflights. Hadfield, 53, is a veteran of two space shuttle

missions. Marshburn, 52, has one previous shuttle mission and

Roman Romanenko, 41, a second-generation cosmonaut, served as a

flight engineer aboard the space station in 2009.

The station crew will have some time off to celebrate

several winter holidays in orbit - Christmas, the New Year and

then Orthodox Christmas - before tackling a list of about 150

science experiments and station maintenance, including two


Among the studies will be medical research into how the

human cardiovascular system changes in microgravity.

"When you live in an environment like that, the heart

actually shrinks. Your blood vessel response changes. It

actually sets us up to cardiovascular problems," Hadfield said.

"We have a sequence of experiments that's taking blood samples

and monitoring our body while we're exercising and doing

different things to try and understand what's going on with our

cardiovascular system," he said.

The research is expected to help doctors unravel the aging

process on Earth, which is similar in many respects to what

happens to the human body in weightlessness.

In addition to medical research, the space station serves as

a laboratory for fluid physics and other microgravity sciences,

a platform for several astronomical observatories and a testbed

for robotics and other technologies.

(Edited by David Adams and Leslie Gevirtz)

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes