The crewmembers of the manned Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft that docked to the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday evening has entered the station after pressure inside the spaceship and the station was equalized, a spokesman for the mission control center said.
The hatch of the capsule carrying NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of Russian space agency Roscosmos was opened while the station was flying over the southern coast of Yemen.
The spacecraft docked at the space station following four orbits around the Earth. The three new crew of the orbiting outpost lifted off without a hitch on Monday, Dec. 3, from Kazakhstan.
The new crew's research experiments will be devoted to physical and chemical processes and materials in outer space, the exploration of Earth and outer space, the study of the human organism in the conditions of an orbital flight, biology and bio-technology. The astronauts were the first sent to be sent to the space station since a crewed Soyuz launch was aborted in October after a booster rocket failed to separate properly, crippling the rocket.
The Soyuz is the only means of reaching the ISS since the United States retired the space shuttle in 2011. They were met by Sergey Prokopiev (Roscosmos), Serena Aurion (NASA) and Alexander Hurst (European space Agency).
The six will be in space together until December 20, when Auñón-Chancellor, Gerst and Prokopyev return to Earth.
The launch was closely scrutinised because of the abortive mission to the ISS on October 11, which ended two minutes after take-off when a rocket failure forced its two-man crew to perform an emergency landing.
In March 2019, the station will again return to a full complement of six crew members when they are joined for Expedition 59 by NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos.
The crew is scheduled to be onboard during the first test flights of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which will return human spaceflight launches to US soil.
"We have confirmation of the spacecraft separation; Soyuz capsule and crew safely in orbit", NASA TV said online in its blow-by-blow commentary of the take-off.
The accident highlighted the "smart design of the Soyuz and the incredible work that the search and rescue people here on the ground are ready to do every launch", he said.