Three ISS crew members went on the ride of a lifetime yesterday afternoon. A Russian Soyuz capsule rocketed into the skies above Kazakhstan carrying crewmembers Anton Shkaplerov (Russia), Terry Virts (U.S.) and Samantha Cristoforetti (Italy).
Last night at 9:48 pm ET, the Soyuz capsule docked with the International Space Station.
The three new crew members join NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova. Check out the moment the two crews meet below.
As with any new mission, there’s bound to be a few ‘firsts’ along the way. One ‘first’ will be welcome to the ISS crew. Freshly brewed espresso will be taste tested for the first time in space. Italy’s Lavazza (coffee company) and Argotec (engineering firm) joined forces to design the ISSpresso coffeemaker.
Not only will Cristoforetti be the first Italian woman in space, she’ll also be the first astronaut to drink a cup of “authentic Italian espresso in orbit.”
The three new ISS members will call the ISS home until mid-May. The three-person crew they met last night will depart for Earth in early March.
The Russian Soyuz capsule remains the only way for would-be ISS crew members to get to the space station. NASA has granted contracts for manned space flights to Boeing and SpaceX. But, the reliance on Soyuz capsules will continue for the foreseeable future. The first manned commercial flights from Boeing won’t be ready to go until 2017.