The Soyuz TMA-15M launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 4:01 p.m. EST (3:01 a.m. on Nov. 24 Baikonur time). Terry Virts of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency now are safely in orbit.
Virts, Shkaplerov and Cristoforetti will dock with the station’s Rassvet module at 9:53 p.m. Welcoming them aboard will be the current station residents, Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore of NASA and Alexander Samoukutyaev and Elena Serova of Roscosmos. Wilmore, Samoukutyaev and Serova arrived at the space station in September aboard their Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft and will remain aboard until March 2015.
Some of the cargo flown aboard this Soyuz will be used in research investigations that are either ongoing or planned aboard the International Space Station. Items such as questionnaires will be delivered to obtain in-flight data about crew member characteristics, such as day-to-day changes in health or incidence of pain or pressure in microgravity. One such investigation is Space Headaches which uses questionnaires to collect information about the prevalence and characteristics of crew members’ headaches in microgravity. This information is used to develop future countermeasures for headaches often caused by intracranial pressure change.
Researchers will also use biological sample kits delivered by the Soyuz spacecraft to obtain samples of blood, saliva or urine. The ongoing collection of biological samples from crew members help scientists determine if immune system impairment caused by spaceflight increases the possibility for infection or poses a significant health risk during life aboard the space station.