European Space Agency Astronaut Tim Peake of the UK arrived at the International Space Station today following a smooth launch and four orbit accelerated rendezvous. Tim and fellow travelers NASA’s Tim Kopra and RSA’s Yuri Malenchenko lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome at 6:03 AM EST today and once in orbit begun there four orbit, six hour journey to the station.
The crew had to perform a manual docking after the KURS automated docking was aborted when the craft was just 20 metres away from the station.
Tim’s mission called Principia will see him stay at the station for six months during which time he will perform numerous experiments including interacting with two Raspberry PI’s that were recently launched to the station aboard the Cygnus spacecraft. The PI’s will be executing programs created by school children around the UK which were selected during a competition.
Tim is the second UK astronaut to travel into space and the first to the ISS, the previous traveler Helen Sharman visited the Mir station.
Current station commander Scott Kelly posted the following picture of the launch captured from the station today.
Following the undocking earlier today the three crew members on-board the Soyuz TMA-14M are now back on the earth. For some reason communication was lost with the vehicle during the initial part of the return, however the tracking site in Egypt confirmed that things were on track once it established communications. Communications were re-established once they where through the atmosphere.
Once the spacecraft landed the rescue crews made there way to vehicle and started to offload the three crew members. Once the medical checks have been completed the they will fly to Karaganda where they will continue back to there respective countries.
We were not able to get any screen shots of the return due to the weather and communication issues.
The crew of the Soyuz TMA-14M undocked from the International Space Station today bringing to an end the Expedition 42 mission on the station. Astronaut Barry Wilmore and Cosmonauts Elena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev spent 167 days aboard the station during which time they performed six EVA’s and saw the arrival of three cargo vehicles and departure of four.
During the spacewalks the crews prepared the station for the reconfiguration to allow the new commercial crew vehicles being built by Boeing and SpaceX to dock with the station, and the additional of a new inflatable module from Bigelow Aerospace.
The crew also spent a significant amount of time working on numerous experiments during there time on the station including on themselves.
Below are some images captured from the closing of the hatch. We will post a followup article once the crew has landed safely later today.
The three crew members Aleksandr Samokutyayev, Yelena Serova and Barry E. Wilmore aboard the Soyuz TMA-14M have now entered their home for the next six months. Following a smooth docking, leak checks were performed and the hatches opened allowing the crew to enter the station. Just before the hatches opened NASA confirmed that after the docking of the Soyuz TMA-14M to the Poisk module the stuck Solar Array unexpectedly deployed. The hatch opening occurred almost an hour later than originally planned.
Once on board the normal teleconference with the families and dignitaries on the ground was held before the crew headed to bed for their first night in orbit.
A fun fact from this arrival, there are 18 Zebrafish on Soyuz, add that to the 40 mice that arrived on Dragon earlier this week and the six crew members there are 64 living on the station currently.
A Soyuz TMA-14M carrying cosmonaut Aleksandr Samokutyayev, the first female cosmonaut Yelena Serova and astronaut Barry E. Wilmore lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome at 4:25pm EDT to begin a four orbit, six hour journey to the International Space Station to complete the Expedition 41 crew complement.
Following a smooth ride to orbit the spacecraft transitioned to orbital operations before beginning the accelerated approach plan that been adopted by the Russian Federal Space Agency for trips to the station. This reduces the amount of time the crew spends in the cramped environment of the Soyuz spacecraft, before the new plan was adopted it would typically take two days before the crew would be aboard the station.
Docking is scheduled at 10:15pm EDT today and will be shown live on NASA TV, with hatch opening scheduled for a couple of hours later once all the leak tests have been completed.
Below are screen grabs of the launch from NASA TV.