At 3:57 pm EDT this afternoon the Soyuz TMA-13M lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome carrying Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and European Space Agency flight engineer Alexander Gerst. Following a successful climb to orbit the spacecraft began a four orbit, six hour journey towards the International Space Station (ISS).
The spacecraft completed docking at 9:44 pm EDT slightly ahead of schedule due to a flawless flight. A series of leak check were then performed before the hatches were opened at 11:50pm EDT allowing the new crew to enter the station and being there time working and living on the station.
The accelerated docking processing has become the norm for Soyuz vehicles allowing the crews to launch, dock and enter the station within eight hours. However as was seen in the previous flight the backup plan is also available which results in it taking two days to reach the station instead.
The station is once again back at it’s full six crew member complement and has a busy schedule coming up which includes visits from Progress, Cygnus, ATV and Dragon as well as five spacewalks two from the Russian airlock and three from the US side.