During times of almost universal strife among different cultures on Earth, one of the most fascinating projects that has attracted broad global participation is the construction and operation of the International Space Station, which may actually be observed from New Jersey using an online location chart provided by NASA.
European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is a pilot in her country’s Air Force, an engineer and in November she became the first Italian woman in space.
The Soyuz spacecraft launched from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan safely docked with the International Space Station this morning, delivering Cristoforetti and her crew mates, Soyuz commander Anton Shkaplerov, a Russian Air Force Colonel, and United States Air Force Colonel Terry Virts, a NASA astronaut, to the weightless research center where they will live and work for five months.
Cristoforetti and her crew mates were welcomed aboard by NASA Station commander Barry Wilmore and Roscosmos cosmonauts Yelena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev. The three residents said goodbye to the Expedition of ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst just two weeks ago.
On this mission, Cristoforetti is flying as an ESA astronaut for Italy’s ASI space agency under a special agreement with NASA as part of the Station’s Expedition 42/43 crew.
Cristoforetti’s mission is named ‘Futura’ to highlight the science and technology research she will run in weightlessness to help shape our future.
The Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft lifted off at 21:01 GMT on 23 November (22:01 CET; 03:01 local time 24 November) and reached orbit nine minutes later.
As is now standard with Soyuz, the astronauts reached their destination just five hours and 48 minutes after liftoff and four orbits around our planet. Their spacecraft docked as planned at 02:49 GMT (03:49 CET), and the hatch to their new home in space was opened at 05:00 GMT (06:00 CET).
For more information about the Futura mission online, visit www.esa.int/Futura
Follow the Futura mission with live updates from Cristoforetti and the mission directors themselves on the mission blog ‘Outpost 42’ via outpost42.esa.int
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