A new three-member crew at the International Space Station has begun their five-month mission at the orbital outpost.
The Soyuz spacecraft, carrying Russians Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazansky and American Michael Hopkins, docked at the ISS Wednesday night. The spacecraft arrived at the station at 10:45 EDT, less than six hours after blasting off from the Russian spaceport in Kazakhstan. Nearly two hours later, they entered the ISS and were greeted enthusiastically by the current three-man crew.
This was the shortest Soyuz flight to the ISS; the trip usually takes about two days .
During their mission, Kotov, Ryazansky and Hopkins will conduct three spacewalks, one of which will include carrying the Olympic torch into space as part of the torch relay for the 2014 Winter Games, which will be held in the Russian city of Sochi. The torch, which will arrive in November with the next three-member crew, will not be lit during the space walk for safety reasons.