U. S., Russian Soyuz Crew Sprints to the International Space Station
The latest tenants of the International Space Station, NASA’s Chris Cassidy and Russia’s Pavel Vinogradov and Aleksandr Misurkin, reached the six person orbital outpost in a sprint Thursday, docking in less than six hours after they lifted off.
The ISS partners plan more of the expedited trips to the space station – the usual journey unfolds over two days. Mission Managers may even adopt the shorter timeline as the new standard.
Vinogradov, Misurkin and Cassidy docked with the station’s Russian segment Poisk module at 10:28 p.m., EDT, where they were greeted by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, the station’s current commander, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and cosmonaut Roman Romanenko.
They lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:43 p.m., EDT, climbing through a clear moonlit sky in what was locally the early morning on Friday.
“Everything is in perfect order,” Vinogradov, the Soyuz commander advised, during the nine minute ascent. “We feel great.”
A series of four major rendezvous maneuvers followed, placing the three men on the fast track to the space station.
The faster journeys could introduce a level of comfort for future ISS crews, especially those astronauts who experience symptoms of space motion sickness as they acclimate to weightlessness in the close quarters of the venerable Soyuz capsules.
Three unpiloted Russian Progress cargo capsules followed the same fast track to pave the way in February, October and August.
The rapid rendezvous reprises a launch strategy employed by the formerSoviet Unionto place cosmonauts on the former Salyut series of space stations in the 1970s. Two NASA Gemini crews carried out a rapid rendezvous as well in December 1965.
Cassidy, Vinogradov and Misurkin are prepared for a challenging schedule over a mission scheduled to last five to six months. They may participated in up to seven spacewalks preparing the station for the arrival of a new Russian research module, placing external experiments and taking on some maintenance tasks.
Japanese, European andU. S.commercial resupply capsules as well as Russian Progress cargo capsules are scheduled to arrive as well.
The new space station crew will oversee, support or serve as subjects in more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations under way on the space station.
Vinogradov is a veteran of two previous mission to the International Space Station as well as Russia’s former Mir space station. Cassidy is shuttle mission veteran. Misurkin is flying in space for the first time.