Russian, Japanese, US crew reach ISS.MOSCOW – Astronauts from Russia, Japan and the United States Thursday docked successfully with the International Space Station after a two-month delay, despite a minor hiccup. The Soyuz TMA 17M rocket – carrying cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, US astronaut Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui of Japan – blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome on schedule after a two-month delay caused by the failure of a Russian rocket during an unmanned resupply mission.
The launch and the docking were successful even though one solar array – a type of power supply that captures energy from the sun – did not deploy on time. Both Russian and US space officials said the mishap did not affect the rocket’s flight because the other solar arrays were still operating. “Now THAT was awesome. Thank you to everyone who made this dream come true!” Lindgren wrote on Twitter.
Russian television broadcast footage of a beaming crew next to Russia’s Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko, as well as Scott Kelly of NASA, who welcomed them on board the orbiting lab.
The spacecraft blasted off on schedule from Russian-leased Baikonur in the barren Kazakh steppe at 2102 GMT, and after a fly-around at around 350 metres (1,150 feet), the rocket manoeuvred to dok with the ISS at 0246 GMT.