Soyuz TMA-4 lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan two days ago on Flight 8S. During the journey, Kuipers was the Soyuz Flight Engineer, taking an active role in piloting and docking the spacecraft alongside FKA cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, the Soyuz Commander who will become the ISS Expedition 9 Commander. The third crew member was NASA astronaut Edward Fincke, the ISS Expedition 9 Flight Engineer.
Kuipers is the second Dutch citizen in space, following Wubbo Ockels in 1985. During his 11-day mission, nine of them on the ISS, Kuipers will carry out an extensive experiment programme in the fields of human physiology, biology, microbiology, physical science, Earth observation, education and technology. Part of this programme started in Soyuz TMA-4 on the flight to the ISS, with Kuipers carrying out procedures for two human physiology experiments (MOP, MUSCLE) and two biology experiments (FLOW, KAPPA).
On arrival at the ISS, one of the first tasks for Kuipers after hatch opening is to transfer the experiment equipment and samples from Soyuz TMA-4 to the ISS. Other experiment equipment for the mission was transported to the ISS on an unmanned Progress supply ship on flight 13P, launched on 29 January this year.
Kuipers' activities on his first day on the ISS cover a majority of the various experimental fields. He will transfer biological samples between the European-built Kubik incubators. This will cover the biological experiments ACTIN, ICE-first, FLOW, KAPPA and TUBUL. He will carry out procedures for the human physiology experiments CIRCA, Motion Perception (MOP) and MUSCLE and take samples for the microbiology experiment, SAMPLE, an investigation into bacteria on the ISS.