Archive for Sunday, December 9, 2001

Trio take up residence on space station

December 9, 2001

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— Two American astronauts and their Russian commander moved into the international space station on Saturday, settling in for a half-year stay.

The three men arrived aboard space shuttle Endeavour the day before, but they did not have time to trade places with the space station crew that has been on board since August.

The new residents' formfitting seat liners for the lifeboat had to be carried over and installed, and their spacesuits tucked away, before they could call space station Alpha home. The swap was completed late Saturday afternoon.

Russian Yuri Onufrienko couldn't wait to take over as space station commander from American Frank Culbertson. The cosmonaut kept peeking through a small window on Friday evening before the hatch finally swung open between the docked spacecraft, and he said he was ready to get to work.

Onufrienko will remain on board until May, along with astronauts Daniel Bursch and Carl Walz.

As gear moved back and forth across the threshold, Endeavour's astronauts used the ship's robot arm to lift an Italian-built cargo carrier from the shuttle and attach it to the station.

"Good job," Mission Control radioed.

The carrier, named Raffaello, is loaded with 3 tons of food, clothes, science experiments and spare parts. Once emptied, it will be filled with dirty laundry, trash and used equipment and put back on Endeavour for the ride home.

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