The Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft coupled with a Soyuz-FG rocket which blasted off from the Baikonur space center on Monday with three astronauts onboard has successfully docked with the MIM-1 small research module of the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS) after a six-hour autonomous flight, a Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) representative told Interfax-AVN on Monday.
"Automatic docking was accomplished at 5:48 a.m. Moscow time," he said.
The crew opened the hatch and began to prepare to enter the International Space Station from the Soyuz TMA-15M.
"The hatches between the spaceship and the station are open. Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and NASA astronaut Terry Virts are getting ready to enter the ISS. Everything is proceeding as planned," the source said.
The ISS is manned by Alexander Samokutyayev and Yelena Serova of Roscosmos and NASA's Barry Wilmore.
The Soyuz-FG rocket coupled with a Soyuz TMA-15M blasted off from Baikonur at 00:01 a.m. Moscow time on November 24. The spaceship automatically docked with the ISS at 5:48 a.m. Moscow time.
Expedition 42/43 crew will spend 169 days in orbit. An ample scientific research program will be completed and Progress cargo ships and the ATV-5 resupply ship will be received in orbit.
Soyuz TMA-15M is designed and built by the Korolyov-based Energia Corporation. Soyuz TMA-M spaceships are Soyuz TMA derivatives with modernized motion control, navigation and measurement systems. The inaugural launch of the new spaceship took place on October 8, 2010. Modernization alleviated height and weight restrictions on astronauts: Soyuz TMA-M spaceships can accommodate astronauts shorter than 190 centimeters and lighter than 95 kilograms.
Soyuz-FG is a three-stage liquid-fuel (liquid oxygen and kerosene) launch vehicle built by Samara CSKB Progress. Its takeoff mass is 310 tonnes and its length is about 50 meters. It can put payloads of up to 7.1 tonnes into low orbits with an inclination of 51.6 degrees.
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