First British Astronaut Blasts Off to ISS on Soyuz with Russian/American Crewmates

The Soyuz TMA-19M rocket is launched with the Expedition 46 crew of Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA, and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency), on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.  Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The first British astronaut to blast off on a journey to the International Space Station (ISS) soared gloriously skyward early today, Dec 15, following the flawless launch of a Russian Soyuz capsule with his Russian/American crewmates from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The picture perfect liftoff of the Soyuz TMA-19M rocket with Expedition 46 Soyuz Commander and six time space flyer Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA, and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency), occurred at 6:03 a.m. EST (5:03 p.m. Baikonur time, 1103 GMT) on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015.

The Soyuz crew executed a series of delta velocity burns after liftoff to adjust the orbit to intersect with the space station after launching from the same pad used by Yuri Gagarin, the first human to launch into space back in 1961.

The launch culminated with a very rapid 4-orbit 6-hour fast track arrival at the massive Earth orbiting complex.

However, the crews successful docking only took place after a slight delay when an unexplained glitch occurred in the final moments.

The very experienced Soyuz commander Yuri Malenchenko took over manual control of the crafts approach after a technical issue with the automated Kurs docking system aborted the vehicles approach at about 20 meters distance.

The crews are trained extensively for both automated and manual docking operations.

Soyuz contact and docking capture at the ISS was confirmed at 12:33 p.m. EST, about 10 minutes later than originally planned, while flying about 222 statute miles over India.

The hooks and latches were then activated and closed to complete the spacecrafts hard mating to the station.

“We have finally arrived at the station,” announced a gleeful Malenchenko.

The Soyuz capsule and crew will remain at the space station for some six months until May 2016. —> Read More

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