On Friday, the Russian Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft that took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome spaceport in Kazakhstan on Wednesday made contact with the International Space Station at 3:40 p.m. Eastern. The docking procedure went off without a hitch after a two-day trip through space for the crew on board.
“A journey that began with the launch of the Soyuz spacecraft culminates with a textbook rendezvous and smooth docking of the vehicle,” a NASA spokesperson says during a live stream of the event.
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This mission is part of the Expedition 55 that doubled the crew aboard the ISS. NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev joined three other space travelers on board of the orbital station.
The Soyuz made its way towards the ISS on an automated approach. The spacecraft was flying over the northern coast of Africa during its docking period.
Once the Soyuz attached itself to the Poisk docking module on the top side of the station. Once connected, the crew aboard began conducting 90 minutes of “leak checks” to ensure an airlock between the Soyuz and the ISS was established.
When Feustel, Arnold, and Artemyev enter the ISS they will begin preparation for “several intense spacewalking activities” scheduled for March 29. “We are going to replace a camera group that gives us the wonderful views of the Earth and also helps us see what is going on around the space station,” said Arnold at a pre-launch news conference on Tuesday.
The trio will also be responsible for overseeing hundreds of experiments currently taking place in the orbiting station.
This mission will last roughly five months. The team is scheduled to take the Soyuz MS-08 back to Earth on August 27, after three new space travelers join them in orbit earlier in the summer.