On May 29, 2009, a Russian spacecraft docked with the ISS
to unload three more astronauts bringing the crew to six.
Roman Romanenko from Russia, Robert Thirsk from Canada, and
Frank De Winne from Belgium (ESA) joined ISS Commander Gennady
Padalka (Russia) and flight engineers Koichi Wakata from Japan
and Mike Barratt from the United States. Image courtesy RFSA.
NASA will have a $306 million contract extension with the Russian Federal Space Agency to ferry crew to the ISS in 2012 and 2013. NASA plans to retire the space shuttle by 2010 and the Orion/Ares replacement system won't be ready to launch until 2015. The NASA contract is for two Russian Soyuz flights in spring 2012 and two in fall 2012. Russia plans to open by December 2009 new Soyuz-ST Rocket Launch facilities at France's Guiana Space Centre in Kourou in northern South America.