Friday, March 29, 2013

Same Day Delivery: Expedition 35 Crew Arrives at ISS in Less Than Six Hours

The Soyuz TMA-08M crew has arrived at the International Space Station after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz TMA-08M launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 8:43 p.m. GMT
Credit: NASA
The trio, made up of cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov, Aleksandr Misurkin and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, launched aboard their Soyuz spacecraft from the same launch pad used by Yuri Gagarin in 1961, lifting into the Kazakhstan sky at 8:43 p.m GMT.

However, what makes this Soyuz mission to the ISS special is that is is the first time a crew launching to the station used the six-hour rendezvous flight profile, previously tested on the last two Progress resupply missions to the orbiting laboratory.

Launch, rendezvous and docking to the space station in all previous Soyuz flights took two days to do so if all went according to plan. Today, the new trio arrived at their home for the next six moths in less time than it takes to fly a plane from London to New York!

The trio docked to the station's Poisk module at 2:28 a.m. GMT over the Pacific Ocean, a little under six hours after launching from Baikonur.
All six Expedition 35 crew members aboard the ISS
Credit: NASA

The hatches between the Soyuz and the station's Poisk Module were opened at 4.35 a.m. GMT, when the crew was welcomed aboard by Station commander Chris Hadfield, Tom Marshburn and Roman Romanenko, restoring the station to its full complement of six crew members.

Speaking in a NASA social media event recently, Expedition 32/33 Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of JAXA said "It's really cool... It's kind of interesting to see the transition from a two day rendezvous to just six hours". Hoshide who flew to the station after two days catching up in his Soyuz, marvels at the speed at which crews can now fly to the ISS- "You launch in the morning and then that afternoon you're already on the station".

Vinogradov, Misurkin and Cassidy are scheduled to return to Earth in September.