The rocket blasted off Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday at 4:43 PM EDT and docked at the International Space Station’s Poisk module at 10:28 PM EDT. It carried three astronauts, Soyuz Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy.
The fast track journey to the International Space Station was made possible by reducing the number of times the rocket orbits around the Earth before it docks on to the ISS. Getting into space rendezvous is a very complex task. Usually, before docking on to the ISS, a rocket orbits 34 times around the Earth, in order to get in the same orbit and velocity as that of the ISS. In this case, the NASA and Russian team managed to dock to the ISS by making just 4 orbits around the Earth.
Before the rocket was launched, Pavel Vinogradov, incoming station commander told reporters via translator on NASA Television that, “At first everybody was really apprehensive about it, but later on our ballistic specialists calculated the possibility, looked at the rocket and verified the capabilities of the Soyuz (capsule) which now has a digital command and control system and an onboard computer that can do pretty much anything.”
This new shortcut travel will be beneficial in a big way. Astronauts can now say bye bye to impacts of microgravity like nausea, dizziness, vomiting, which usually get better of the astronauts during the two day ordeal. Another important advantage is that the biomedical experiments and equipment can reach the ISS much faster.