Monday, November 24, 2014

Soyuz Trio Arrive at International Space Station

The Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft carrying three astronauts and cosmonauts has arrived at the International Space Station, just six hours after launch from Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz rocket carrying Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, NASA astronaut Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency, lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 21:01 GMT.

On reaching Earth orbit less than nine minutes after launch, the Soyuz spacecraft deployed it's solar arrays, performed a series of orbital burns and manoeuvres- setting its course for the orbiting complex.

After a four orbit orbital rendezvous, the Soyuz successfully docked with the Rassvet Module of the International Space Station's Russian segment at 02:53.
The Expedition 42 crew aboard the ISS speaking with family.
The hatches between the Soyuz and the station were opened after leak checks were completed, as Shkaplerov, Virts and Cristoforetti were greeted by the Expedition 42 prime crew members already aboard the station, restoring the station's crew complement to six people.

The new station residents who are expected to remain on the ISS for the next five months, before returning to Earth in May 2015. They will begin life aboard their new home by adjusting to microgravity and becoming familiar with their surroundings.

This is the second long duration mission mission to the ISS for Shkaplerov, who spent six months aboard the orbital laboratory as a Flight Engineer during Expedition 29/30. 

This is the first long duration flight for Virts, and his second flight into space, after piloting Space Shuttle Atlantis to the International Space Station on shuttle mission STS-130 back in 2010.

This is the first flight into space for rookie ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, having been selected as an astronaut by the agency in 2009.

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