Soyuz brings new crew to ISS

A Soyuz spacecraft has successfully docked at the ISS just 6 hours after the lift-off, bringing up a new Space Station crew, including the first female Russian cosmonaut after a nearly two-decade break.

A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying the Soyuz TMA-14M lifted off from the launch pad of Baikonur Cosmodrome at 20:25 GMT, carrying the Expedition 41 crew of NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore and cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova.

‘Gender makes no difference’: First Russian woman in space in 17 years eager to blast off

The Expedition 41 crew moved in for docking just about six hours after the lift off with the Russian cosmonauts supervising the sequence of rocket firings needed to reach the space station.

The spacecraft suffered a minor malfunction after one of its two solar panels failed to open, but other maneuvering was performed as planned.

In March, the Expedition 39 crew were forced to take a longer trajectory to ISS instead of a short six hour one due an error in the orientation system of the spacecraft – the Soyuz capsule skipped a planned steering manoeuvre.

Soyuz vehicles typically spend two days chasing the space station in orbit after launch. A quicker arrival to the orbiting complex could cut down the overall amount of consumables, as well as minimizes the amount of time the astronauts spend inside the small Soyuz capsule.

After the retirement of the US space shuttle, Russia is now the sole nation capable of transporting humans to the ISS.

The new crew will join Commander Maxim Suraev, European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst and NASA flight engineer Reid Wiseman on board the ISS, who arrived there on September 10.

Elena Serova has become the fourth Russian female cosmonaut to head into space and the first since 1997. The first woman in space was Valentina Tereshkova in 1963. Almost 20 years later, in 1982, Svetlana Savitskaya matched Tereshkova’s achievement. The third Russian woman in space was Elena Kondakova, who in 1997 stayed over 178 days in space.