ISS Crew Complement is Now Four Men, Two Women From Three Countries

ISS Crew Complement is Now Four Men, Two Women From Three Countries

Three new crew members arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) this evening Eastern Standard Time (EST), returning the ISS to its full crew complement of six people.  With the arrival of Soyuz TMA-15M, there are four men and two women aboard, representing Russia, the United States and Italy, a member of the European Space Agency (ESA).

NASA astronaut Terry Virts, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov were launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:01 pm EST today and docked with the ISS just under 6 hours later at 9:49 pm EST, using the expedited trajectory that has become common in recent years (previously it took two days to reach the ISS).

Hatch opening is expected in about 1.5 hours.  The three will join NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Russian cosmonauts Elena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev who arrived at the ISS in September. 

The ISS is an international partnership among the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada and 11 European countries represented by ESA.  Since the United States terminated the space shuttle program in 2011, Russian Soyuz spacecraft are the only means of crew transportation to and from the ISS.   The United States is developing new crew transportation systems under “commercial crew” public-private partnerships between NASA and two private companies, Boeing and SpaceX, to restore an American ability to launch people into space by the end of 2017.

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