International Space Station Lifted to Higher Orbit

With the help of Russia's Progress M-47 supply ship, the International Space Station /ISS/ had its orbit lifted at 14.45 Moscow time on Thursday, said Valery Lyndin, a specialist from Russia's Mission Control.

According to him, the orbit's parameters before lifting were: maximum distance from the Earth 410 kilometres, minimum distance 388 kilometres. By firing engines of the craft docked to the ISS at 14.35 Moscow time for a period of 661 seconds, the station's orbit was hoisted by several kilometres. Ballistic experts are currently calculating the details of its new orbit.

As Lyndin indicated, this began in effect the station's preparation for docking with Russia's Soyuz TMA-2 spacecraft, which is to blast off with a new, seventh, crew of cosmonauts on April 26. It is a Russian-American team consisting of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and US astronaut Edward Lu.

"The new and higher orbit of the ISS will ensure better conditions not only for docking, but also for a descent from orbit of the 6th permanent expedition comprising Russian cosmonaut Nikolai Budarin and American astronauts Kenneth Bowersocks and Donald Pettit, Lyndin remarked.

This crew, because of the crash of the Columbia shuttle, spent an "extra" two months in orbit. It is to land in Kazakhstan, it was added at Mission Control.

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