International Space Station Receives First Crew
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CREW ENTERS HISTORIC HOME
Thursday, 2 November, 2000
An American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts have boarded the
International Space Station (ISS) to become the platform's first, long-term
"It's a great moment for all of us," said the space station's commander,
Bill Shepherd, as the crew boarded their new home.
William Shepherd, Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko entered the ISS at about
1100 GMT, shortly after their Soyuz capsule had docked with the station's
The three men set up a live, televised link with the Russian mission control
centre outside Moscow to confirm all was well on the station. A giant screen
in the centre showed the crew, dressed in blue uniforms with headphones over
their ears, floating in mid-air.
"We feel fine inside the station," said cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev.
In a conversation with American space agency chief Dan Goldin, Commander
Shepherd also said that the crew was doing well but had one request.
"The first expedition on the space station requests permission to take the
radio call sign Alpha," Shepherd said, punching the air with his right fist.
All three men beamed and clasped their hands in a show of unity.
Goldin seemed surprised, but granted temporary permission. Alpha has long
been the crew's choice for a name for the platform, but the US space agency
has resisted, preferring simply the International Space Station, or ISS.
Russian space officials in particular are not keen on the name. They
disapprove because it signifies the first. For Russians, the 15-year-old Mir
space station is No 1. They have suggested the ISS be called Beta or even
On entering the station, Shepherd, Krikalev and Gidzenko had to turn on
lights and life-support systems.
Flight controllers intend to keep the crew's work schedule light in the
first few weeks, although Krikalev already has battery repairs scheduled for
The American space agency, Nasa, expects it will take a while before
Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev feel truly at home.
They will be confined to two of the space station's three rooms until a
shuttle mission next month arrives with giant solar panels that will provide
all the necessary power.
When complete in 2006, the multi-billion-dollar space station will be the
largest man-made structure in space, more than 100 metres long and weighing
450 tonnes, and clearly visible from the surface of the Earth.
The launch of the first, three-man crew - known as Expedition 1 - has
generated huge excitement.
"This is a huge, huge event," said US astronaut Frank Culbertson, who is to
command a space station mission next year. I can't believe after all these
years we finally are doing what we've been working for so long. It's going
to take a while, I think, for people to digest the significance of this."
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the 16-nation ISS programme a "clear
and convincing example of mutually beneficial co-operation, which is capable
of uniting people of different nationalities for solving key tasks in
Nasa chief Daniel Goldin said as he toasted the launch: "It's a wonderful
day, not for America, not for Russia, but for the people who live on this
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