The Soyuz spacecraft launched from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan last night safely docked with the International Space Station this morning, delivering ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and her crewmates to the weightless research centre where they will live and work for five months.
On this mission, Samantha is flying as an ESA astronaut for Italy’s ASI space agency under a special agreement between ASI and NASA.
With Samantha are Russian Soyuz commander Anton Shkaplerov and NASA astronaut Terry Virts. All three are part of the Station’s Expedition 42/43 crew.
Samantha’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).
Samantha and her crewmates 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.
For more information about Samantha’s Futura mission online, visit www.esa.int/Futura
Follow the Futura mission with live updates from Samantha and the mission directors themselves on the mission blog ‘Outpost 42’ via outpost42.esa.int
Follow Samantha on Twitter: @astro_samantha
About the European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.
ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU. Two other Member States of the EU, Hungary and Estonia, are likely soon to become new ESA Member States.
ESA has Cooperation Agreements with six other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.
ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.
ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.
Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.
Learn more about ESA at www.esa.int
For further information, please contact:
ESA Media Relations Office
Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99