Sunday, November 30, 2014

Expedition 42 begins on ISS

Launch of Soyuz rocket carrying Soyuz spacecraft TMA-15M to rendezvous with the ISS. All credits NASA/NASA TV unless otherwise credited.

There was a time when the International Space Station would be manned only by a crew of three. On this Thanksgiving then, we can be thankful that despite the tensions between the NATO countries and Russia, our joint space activities still remain and we can all benefit by the use of the venerable Soyuz rocket system. On November 23, another Russian Soyuz boosted its spacecraft into a quick-rendezvous orbit designed to deliver the Expedition 42 secondary crew to the ISS. Six hours after launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the TMA-15M spacecraft caught up with the ISS and was docked to the Russian Rassvet module.

Expedition 42 Crew Picture: Back, L-R is Russian Roscosmos cosmonaut Elena Serova, Exp. 42 Commander Barry Wilmore (NASA), and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Samokutyaev. Newly arrived crew in front, L-R: Soyuz TMA-15M commander Anton Shkaplerov (Russian Space Agency - Roscosmos), ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti (Italy), and NASA astronaut Terry Virts.

Terry Virts has previously visited the ISS before, as the pilot of the Space Shuttle Endeavor on mission STS-130, when NASA delivered and installed the Tranquility (Node 3) module and Cupola.

Beautiful shot of the Russian Soyuz rocket on the launch pad, having just been raised to vertical position. The other arms (laying down at each side) will next be raised to support position.

After the welcome aboard ceremony the crew settled into their new quarters and joined the daily routines of maintenance, operation of science experiments, and station operations. On Thursday, however, there was a special occasion: A Thanksgiving meal.  Astronauts were able to eat smoked turkey, candied yams, green beans and mushrooms. Of course all products had been irradiated, freeze-dried, or thermostabilized! Be grateful that down here on Earth we could have gravy...

With the full crew now on board, the team will concentrate on more than 150 experiments, and preparing for spacewalks that will get the station ready for upcoming dockings with new spacecraft being built by commercial companies.

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