Mars isn’t the only place in the Solar System that was busy this week with arriving spacecraft. While NASA’s MAVEN and ISRO’s MOM arrived in orbit around the Red Planet, the International Space Station also welcomed two arriving spacecraft, bringing the total of docked ships at the ISS to five.
Last night, the Expedition 41/42 crew arrived — peeling in on one solar panel on their Soyuz TMA-14M — with the first female cosmonaut to be part of an ISS crew, Elena Serova along with her crewmates cosmonaut Alexander Samokutyaev, and NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore. They took the Soyuz “fast track,” arriving at the station in just under six hours after launch. One of the craft’s solar panels jammed and couldn’t deploy, but the crew docked to Poisk docking compartment without indecent.
The arrival of Wilmore, Samokutyaev and Serova returns the station’s crew complement to six. Already on board are Commander Max Suraev of Roscosmos, Reid Wiseman of NASA and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency. They have been aboard the complex since May.
Suraev, Wiseman and Gerst will return home in November. At that time, Wilmore will become commander of the station for Expedition 42, and the remainder of the Expedition 42 crew will arrive in a new Soyuz.
Earlier this week, on September 23, the SpaceX Dragon capsule arrived with over 2.5 tons of science experiments and supplies for the crew.
Also docked to the space station is the Soyuz ship that will take Suraev, Wiseman and Gerst home, a Progress resupply ship and the European ATV-5 supply ship.
There are two more cargo missions targeted to launch to the space station before the end of the year. Orbital Sciences just announced October 20 as the next launch date for their Cygnus commercial space freighter. It will occupy the same Harmony node port as Dragon when it leaves in a few weeks. When Cygnus vacates the Harmony node port, SpaceX CRS-5 will replace it in December.