The International Space Station Welcomes Its New Residents

There are now six people calling the International Space Station home, with the arrival of three fresh faces on Tuesday.

The three new crew members -- NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Konenenko of Roscosmos (Russia's space agency) -- docked on the ISS at about 3.30am (AEST).

The careful docking of their Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS took place more than 400 kilometres above the Atlantic Ocean.

The Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft carrying the Expedition 58 crew is pictured less than 20 meters from its docking port at the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

But it was nearly a two hour wait for the trio, who had to sit in the Soyuz for standard pressurisation and leak checks, before they could join their crewmates.

When the dock hatch was finally opened, McClain was the first out, receiving warm hugs, before a welcome ceremony for the new members of the Expedition 57 crew.

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The three have joined Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos.

The six will be in space together until December 20, when Auñón-Chancellor, Gerst and Prokopyev return to Earth.

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The three newest members will then officially begin Expedition 58, which will see them stay on the ISS conducting hundreds of science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

They will be joined by the members of Expedition 59 -- Alexey Ovchinin of Roscomos with  NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Hammock Koch in February.

Hague and Ovchinin were forced to abort an October 11 mission to the ISS because of an anomaly with the Soyuz spacecraft's booster.

This trip is a first for McClain and Saint-Jacques, while Kononenko will feel at home -- it's his fourth expedition to the ISS.