Despite Malfunction, Astronauts Arrive At Space Station

A Russian Soyuz capsule docked with the International Space Station on Thursday, delivering a crew of three astronauts despite a minor malfunction that prevented one of its solar arrays from deploying.

The three astronauts, Soyuz Commander Alexander Samokutyaev and Flight Engineers Barry Wilmore and Elena Serova, launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:57 p.m. Eastern time, io9 notes. Their arrival at the space station marks the beginning of Mission 41, bringing the crew back up to six members. The station is also at its maximum capacity for spacecraft, with five currently docked.

The launch hit a minor technical snag, according to NASA Spaceflight, when one of the capsule’s solar arrays failed to deploy. The crew informed the station of the problem and were able to dock without further issue. Surprisingly, the solar array opened after docking. Likely, it was jarred free by the impact. The process was completed at at 10:11 p.m. Eastern, and the hatches between the spacecraft and station were opened around 11:55 p.m. Eastern.

Serova is the first female cosmonaut to reside on the International Space Station. As Mashable notes, she is just the fourth woman to reach space in the history of the Russian agency, and the first in 17 years. Prior to the launch, she fielded interview questions about zero gravity hair care and whether her daughter would miss her, prompting Serova to inquire if her male colleagues would be asked about the same topics.

The space station’s current roster of five spacecraft includes two capsules that are used for transporting astronauts, and three that are utilized for cargo. One of the cargo capsules, the Dragon, docked on Tuesday after being launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral. The Dragon capsule is manufactured by SpaceX, as The Inquisitr previously noted, one of two companies which have been contracted to provide crew transport to the International Space Station. Astronauts will utilize the next generation of the Dragon capsule to complete missions to the station by 2017.

Mission 41 will conclude in November 9 with the departure of three astronauts, while the trio that arrived yesterday will remain aboard the space station for Mission 42.

[Image via Wikipedia]