The International Space Station will have a new three-man crew, who left earth aboard the Russian Soyuz TMA-19M rocket on Tuesday. The space flight will take six and a half hours. Aboard are flight commander, Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, British astronaut Timothy Peake and NASA flight engineer Timothy Kopra from the United States. Their space flight was launched at 6:03:09 AM EST from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is located in Kazakhstan. The launching pad was the same one that launched the first human spaceflight in 1961, with Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
New space station crew
The new crew will join the others who are already on the International Space Station: American astronaut Scott Kelly, who is the commander of Expedition 46 and cosmonauts Mikhail Korniyenko and Sergey Volkov. The trio has been on the space station since March 2015 and are set to return to earth on Soyuz TMA-18M on the March 1, 2016.
The additional crew will be conducting scientific experiments and research for six months. They will replace the three crew members, Kjell Lindgren (NASA astronaut), Kimiya Yui (Japanese astronaut) and Oleg Kononenko (Russian cosmonaut), who returned to Earth last Friday aboard the spacecraft Soyuz TMA-17M, ending their mission that lasted for 141 days. Timothy Peake is the first astronaut from Britain who will be working full-time in the international space program.
Successful take off
The launch was a successful one. TV cameras inside the central crew module showed Malenchenko monitoring the cockpit. On his left was Kopra, who was the co-pilot while Peake was strapped in on the right side of Malenchenko. The International Space Station showed a shot of the Soyuz climbing into space on live television. The rocket’s ascent was smooth, with the rocket’s third stage shut down about nine minutes after the liftoff.
A few minutes before liftoff, the space station passed over the launch site and was about 1,983 miles away when orbit was reached by the Soyuz rocket. It is expected that the spacecraft will be able to perform an autonomous rendezvous with the space station and line up on the Russian Rassvet module and dock at around 12:24 PM EST.
New crew’s experience
Among the three, Malenchenko is the most experienced, and has logged in 641 days in space. He had gone on five space flights and was once the commander of the Mir station of Russia and had been the International Space Station commander on three occasions.
Kopra had been to the space station for two months in 2009. The veteran helicopter pilot from the U.S. Army was assigned to the shuttle mission in February 2011, but met an accident that prevented him from joining the rest of the crew.
It will be the first time on the space station for Peake, who is the first British astronaut to have a long-duration space station assignment. He will be conducting experiments and execute educational activities to encourage more young people to be interested in science.
Image Copyright: NASA TV