The Soyuz TMA-22 delivered Nasa’s Dan Burbank and Russians Anatoly Ivanishin and Anton Shkaplerov, who blasted off from an icy wasteland in Kazakhstan on Monday.
The three newcomers received handshakes and hugs from American Michael Fossum, Russian Sergey Volkov and Japanese Satoshi Furukawa, who have lived on the station since June and are due to return to Earth next week.
There were initial doubts regarding the Soyuz’s journey after a similar craft experienced difficulties and crashed in August but Burbank said he had no worries about making this journey and had every faith in engineers who had examined the causes in great detail.
Shkaplerov, 39, and Ivanishin, 42, are making their first flights into space.
The more experienced Burbank, 50, who will take over command of the space station, is a veteran of 12-day shuttle missions in 2000 and 2006. The three men are to remain on board the space station until March.
The delay cut the crew numbers to three. Another launch next month will take the station back to its normal six-person crew.
William Gerstenmaier, Nasa’s associate administrator for space operations, said in a televised news briefing shortly after the docking that “the Russian team did the tremendous job of getting the launch and the docking ready”.
Check out the view, flimed between August and October 2011, the men at the space station get to view each night. Lucky devils!