Crew capsule safely docks at the International Space Station

Sept. 25 (UPI) — The spacecraft carrying the International Space Station’s three newest crew members has safely docked at the Zvezda service module.

NASA confirmed the docking in a blog update.

The trio will now wait patiently as the crew members inside the space station prepare to open the hatch door and welcome the travelers aboard at 5:45 p.m. ET.

NASA TV will provide live coverage of the hatch opening beginning at 5 p.m.

The missions began when the rocket and crew capsule blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 9:57 a.m. EDT Wednesday. The launch was broadcast live on NASA TV.

Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, 35, was one of three crew members launched into space on Wednesday by a Soyuz rocket. He is the first space traveler from the United Arab Emirates.

“Almansoori is flying on an eight-day mission as a spaceflight participant under a contract between the UAE and Roscosmos,” according to NASA.

Oleg Skripochka, a 49-year-old cosmonaut with two spaceflights under his belt, served as the Soyuz commander for the Expedition 61 flight. Skripochka and Almansoori were accompanied by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, 42.

The journey is also Meir’s inaugural space voyage. The former assistant professor of anesthesiology at Harvard Medical School will serve as flight engineer. Meir, a native of Maine, previously worked for Lockheed Martin as a human physiology researcher. She has a degree in biology from Brown University and a doctorate in marine biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

“About two hours after docking, hatches between the Soyuz and the station will open and the new residents will be greeted by station commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Nick Hague and Andrew Morgan, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov,” according to NASA.

For a week, the space station will be a bit more crowded than usual, with a population of nine. The crew members will get a bit more room to stretch out come Oct. 3, when Hague and Ovchinin head back to Earth after 200 days in space.

The duo will be joined on the flight home by Almansoori, whose stay will be a bit shorter than most astronauts.

“During Expedition 61, crew members will install new lithium-ion batteries for two of the station’s solar array power channels through a series of spacewalks,” NASA wrote in an update. “Later in the expedition, spacewalkers are scheduled to upgrade and repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a key science instrument housed outside the station to study dark matter and the origins of the universe.”

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