MOSCOW, September 4. /TASS/. Russia’s manned spacecraft Soyuz TMA-18M with a crew of three has docked with the research module Poisk of the International Space Station, Mission Control near Moscow has told TASS.
"The docking was normal and on time," Mission Control said.
The SoyuzTAM-18M with a new ISS crew blasted off from the Baikonur space site in Kazakhstan at 07:37 Moscow time on September 2.
It was the 500th launch from pad number one, from where the world’s first man in space Yuri Gagarin made his orbital flight on April 12, 1961 to usher in the era of manned space exploration.
The original plan was the spacecraft would dock with the ISS six hours after liftoff, but later a decision was made in favour of a safer, two-day approach procedure.
On its way to the ISS Soyuz TMA-18M on September 3 performed evasive action to dodge collision with a fragment of Japan’s space rocket, the federal space agency Roscosmos told TASS.
Soyuz TMA-18M delivered to the ISS Russia’s cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, and the first representatives of Denmark and Kazakhstan: the European Space Agency’s Andreas Mogensen and Aidyn Aimbetov. This is Volkov’s third mission in space. Mogensen and Aimbetov are in orbit for the first time.
Under the initial plan British woman vocalist Sarah Brightman was to travel to the ISS as a space tourist. In the middle of the training period she changed her mind for family reasons and was eventually replaced by Aimbetov. His first mission to the ISS was due in 2009, but Kazakhstan had to postpone participation in the project due to financial constraints. The costs of Aimbetov’s flight to the ISS have reached 1.1 billion Russian roubles, Kazakhstan’s air and space committee (Kazkosmos) said.
The hatches between the Soyuz spacecraft and the ISS are to open between 13:20 and 14:00 on Friday, Mission Control said. After that the new arrivals will be welcomed to the ISS by their colleagues: Russia’s Gennady Padalka, Mikhail Korniyenko and Oleg Kononenko, US astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren, and Japan’s Kamiya Yui.
The ISS will see a rather rare situation with nine researchers from five countries present on board simultaneously. Kazakhstan’s Aimbetov will return to earth with Padalka and Mogensen on September 12.