Ooooh, pretty! This is the Soyuz spacecraft shaking the bonds of gravity to carry astronauts to the International Space Station in the wee hours of this morning. After a brief docking hiccup, the trio joined the station crew to kick off Expedition 46.
Soyuz TMA-19M launching from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Image credit: NASA / Joel Kowsky
The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft blasted off from Kazakhstan early this morning, quickly reaching orbit without incident. Six hours after launch, the spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station. Here, the automated docking sequence aborted, backing way to 450 feet (140 meters) and leaving cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko to manually dock the spacecraft. Ground control confirmed a solid docking seal at 12:24pm, just nine minutes behind schedule.
Soyuz TMA-19 arriving at the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA/Scott Kelly
Malenchenko, Tim Kopra, and Tim Peake are joining Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko, and Sergey Volkov on the station. Malenchenko is the most experienced of the newly-launched trio with experience on Mir and the space station, including participating in early shuttle missions to prepare the station for long-term habitation. This is the second mission to the space station for Kopra, and the first space mission for Peake.
Top image: The launch of Soyuz TMA-19M as seen from the International Space Station on December 15, 2015. Credit: NASA/Scott Kelly