After two days of space journey Soyuz MS-02 finally reached International Space Station.
Docking of Soyuz MS-02 with commander Sergey Ryzhikov, flight engineer Andrei Borisenko of Roscosmos along with NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, was planned after 48 hours of space travel. Prolonged time of travel to International Space Station was forced by tests of internal systems of MS-02 planned by Roscosmos. Docking performed today will be followed by attaching Cygnus S.S. Alan Poindexter cargo robotic spacecraft planned for Sunday, 23rd October 2016.
Flight and rendez vous was conducted without any problems and today, at 09:25 GMT, Soyuz was already at 2 km distance from International Space Station. Approach was done fully autonomous from ground control center and without any participation of crew members. At 09:37 GMT Soyuz was only 255 meters from ISS and already finished its flyaround and started to perform roll maneuver to align with docking port of Poisk module. At 09:41 GMT it passed distance of 200 m; two minutes later roll maneuver was finished. After receiving command to begin final approach, Soyuz MS-02 commander Sergey Ryzhikov, initiated docking procedure and Soyuz again started to get close ISS at 09:44 GMT. Spacecraft retracted docking antenna and prepared its docking port. At 09:46 GMT Soyuz was already at 100 m distance from Poisk and reduced speed to 10 cm/s flying over Italy on altitude of 402 km. At 09:48 GMT distance was reduced to 59 m from Poisk. At 09:49 GMT and at 09:52 GMT small corrections of the course were performed and were finished just 14 m from Poisk. Two minutes later contact, capture and docking were confirmed at 09:53 GMT; docking was conducted over southern Russia on altitude of 403 km. Next two hours crew of the MS-02 and remaining inside ISS Kate Rubins (NASA) and Takuya Onishi (JAXA) along with Commander Anatoly Ivanishin (Roscosmos) will spend on checking connection stability, performing leak and pressure checks. Opening of the hatches was planned for around 12:26 GMT.
For Sergey Ryzhikov, Andrei Borisenko and Shane Kimbrough four months mission on ISS begun with opening of the hatch of Poisk module at 12:21 GMT. Now there are six crew members inside Station, with two Soyuz spacecrafts attached (MS-01 to Rassvet nadir port and MS-02 to Poisk module). Kate Rubins (NASA) and Takuya Onishi (JAXA) along with Commander Anatoly Ivanishin (Roscosmos) will stay inside ISS with their colleagues from Expedition 50 for eight days – on 29th October 2016 they will return to Earth inside Soyuz MS-01.