A Soyuz space capsule took the first crew to the International Space Station in November 2000. Since that time, at least one Soyuz has always been at the Station, generally to serve as a lifeboat should the crew have to return to Earth unexpectedly. After the Columbia accident in February 2003, the Soyuz TMA became the means of transportation for crewmembers going to or returning from the orbiting laboratory.
The Soyuz spacecraft is launched to the Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz rocket.
Once the Soyuz reaches orbit, it spends two days chasing the Station. The crew performs systems checks and keeps in touch with controllers at the Russian Mission Control Center during that time.
Before the final rendezvous phase, the crewmembers put on pressurized suits and then monitor the automated docking sequence.