A Soyuz capsule has arrived at the International Space Station just six hours after launch, having been the first to take a quicker route to the orbiting science lab. Instead of the normal 36 orbits and more than fifty hours of journey from the surface to the ISS, the capsule instead circled the Earth just four times, using intricate ballistics manoeuvres to take a quicker route.
After lift-off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 20:43 GMT, the rocket arrived at the ISS in just six hours. The route had been successfully tested three times before by unmanned craft.
The capsule carried three astronauts — Pavel Vingradov and Alexander Misurkin of RUssia, and Chris Cassidy of the United States. The trio will return to Earth in September. Before that, however, they’ll perform approximately 180 experiments on the ISS, covering human research, biological and physical sciences, technology development, Earth observation and education.