BAIKONUR, November 24. /TASS/. The Russian manned spacecraft Soyuz TMA-15M carrying the crew of the next expedition to the International Space Station (ISS) has separated from the Soyuz-FG carrier rocket and entered the calculated orbit, the Baikonur space center told TASS.
The crew consists of Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, who pilots the Soyuz, American Terry Virts and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
“All three feel well,” the space center said.
The docking of the Soyuz with the orbital station will be held in line with the shortened six-hour scheme. Russian cosmonaut Maxim Surayev, NASA astronaut Gregory Reid Wiseman and ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst are waiting for their colleagues on the ISS.
One of the advantages of the “short travel” scheme is that the crew does not have to adapt to zero gravity in the tight space inside the Soyuz spacecraft. The zero gravity state begins to affect the human organism in about five hours. With the use of the short scheme, the astronauts will have to adapt to weightlessness on board the ISS in comfortable conditions. The crew will spend 169 days on board the station.
Out of the new crew, only Cristoforetti has no experience of spaceflights. Shkaplerov and Virts have previously made one flight each. But the American had only flown on board the space shuttle Endeavour.
The crew will have to carry out an extensive program of scientific and applied research and experiments (over 100). No spacewalks are planned in line with the Russian program.