Saturday, March 28, 2015

One Year Crew Arrives at Space Station

Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka joined their Expedition 43 crewmates Terry Virts, Anton Shkaplerov and Samantha Cristoforetti in the Zvezda service module for a crew greeting ceremony. Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka docked with the International Space Station (ISS) at 9:33 p.m. EDT, over the western coast of Colombia, six hours after its launch from Baikonur space center. "Contact and capture," NASA TV commentator Dan Huot said as the Soyuz spacecraft arrived at ISS. "The one-year crew has arrived." The crew opened the air lock approximately two hours after docking and moved into the ISS. On board the ISS they were welcomed by NASA astronaut Terry Virts, Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and ESA's Samantha Christoforetti.

“The crew neither had to interfere with work of automatic docking system, nor to resort to remote piloting – the spacecraft smoothly docked with the ISS,” a source at Baikonur told RIA Novosti. 

Kelly and Kornienko will spend about a year on the space station to better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to the harsh environment of space. Data from the one-year mission will be used to determine whether there are ways to further reduce the risks on future long-duration missions to an asteroid and eventually Mars.

The crew will support several hundred experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth. Data and samples will be collected throughout the year from a series of studies involving Scott and his twin brother, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly. The studies will compare data from the genetically-identical Kelly brothers to identify any subtle changes caused by spaceflight.

During the expedition, both a U.S. and a Russian cargo resupply vehicle will arrive at the station, bringing several tons of food, fuel, and supplies as well as a host of new science investigations.

Virts, Shkaplerov and Cristoforetti will return home in May 2015. At that time Padalka will become commander for Expedition 44. Padalka will spend six months aboard the outpost, during which he will become the first four-time station commander and record holder for most cumulative time spent in space. Kelly and Kornienko will return to Earth in March 2016 with Expedition 46 after 342 days in space.


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