A Soyuz spacecraft has docked with the International Space Station, delivering three astronauts.
The Soyuz TMA-14 was commanded by Russian cosmonaut Alexander Samokutyaev, together with American Flight Engineer Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Elena Serova. She becomes the first Russian cosmonaut to visit the ISS.
The capsule arrived at the orbiting space outpost on Sept. 25, after launch from the Baiknour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The flight encountered some difficulty upon arriving in orbit around the Earth, when one of the two main panels on the vehicle failed to deploy. That instrument was successfully unfurled after arrival at the ISS.
Doors between the vehicles were officially opened at 1:06 a.m. EDT. The new arrivals were greeted by space travelers Commander Max Suraev from Russia, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, and Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman of the United States. This trio arrived at the ISS in May.
"There are now five spacecraft docked to the station, its maximum visiting vehicle capacity. There are two Soyuz vehicles, one Progress 56 resupply ship, Europe's Georges Lemaître ATV-5 and the SpaceX Dragon commercial space freighter which arrived Tuesday morning [Sept. 23]," NASA officials stated in a press release announcing the arrival.
Upon arrival, the international team of space travelers participated in a safety orientation, learning about emergency procedures aboard the vehicle.
Among other supplies and experiments on the Soyuz spacecraft are questionnaires, asking residents of the station about headaches they may have experienced in space. This may be common for people traveling in space due to air pressure changes in the cranium.
Blood, urine and saliva samples will also be collected from residents of the orbiting outpost. These will be used to study how the human immune system responds to long periods spent in space.
A Soyuz spacecraft remained attached to the space station past Autumn, after engineers tried to disembark the vehicle, with three space travelers on board the vehicle. The first docking ever attempted in space took place in March 1966, in a mission led by Neil Armstrong, who would go on to be the first man to walk on the moon. During that event, a faulty thruster on board the crew capsule caused both spaceraft to plummet out of control, forcing an abort.
The Soyuz FG booster rocket, which lifted the trio to orbit, was emblazoned with a logo promoting the upcoming 16th Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) world championships in swimming.
Wilmore, Samokutyaev, and Serova will live on board the ISS until March 2015.
Launch of the Soyuz space capsule carrying the trio of astronauts is available on the ReelNASA YouTube page.