Russian capsule docks safely at space station

Tim Peake is the first British national to join the international space station for 171-day mission.

    A Russian spacecraft carrying three astronauts, including the first Briton to join the International Space Station, has successfully docked after a short technical glitch.

    The Soyuz spacecraft moored at the space outpost at 1733 GMT, about six and a half hours after lifting off from the Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan.

    Onboard the Soyuz TMA-19M were UK astronaut Tim Peake, 43, who is representing the European Space Agency, as well as Russia's Yuri Malenchenko and Timothy Kopra from the US.

    An automatic docking was aborted for an unspecified reason, but Malenchenko moved the ship back a bit to assess its systems and then performed a manual docking manoeuvre.

    Three astronauts blasted off from Kazakhstan for the International Space Station on Tuesday, including the first official UK astronaut to reach the orbiting base.

    Celebrating 15 years of the International Space Station

    Peake became the eighth Briton in space after training six years for the trip.

    The only way astronauts can get up to the International Space Station is through a Russian space capsule, and Russia has been struggling financially to maintain the programme, said Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, who reported from Baikonur.

    Peake, Kopra and Malenchenko will join up with the three astronauts already at the ISS - Scott Kelly of NASA and Russians Sergei Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko.

    Malenchenko and NASA's Kopra have already spent 641 and 58 days in space, respectively.

    Three other astronauts - NASA's Kjell Lindgren, Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui, and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko - returned to Earth on Friday in a rare night-time landing.

    Christmas in space

    Before the trip, Peake told reporters he had been so focused on the 171-day mission that he "forgot that Christmas is just a week away".

    "We'll be enjoying the fantastic view of planet Earth and our thoughts will be with everyone on Earth enjoying Christmas and with our friends and family."

    "I also heard that a Christmas pudding went up on orbital four so we will have treats as well," Peake said to laughter in the press room.

    Space mission installs high-quality camera

    During the mission, Peake said he would take part in the London marathon from space on April 24, harnessed to a running machine on the ISS - some 400km above Earth.

    The European Space Agency flight engineer also said that he will watch the new Star Wars movie from space. 

    Peake said the hardest aspect of his training was learning the Russian language.

    Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are required to know Russian and English.

    Space travel has been one of the few areas of international cooperation between Russia and the West that has not been wrecked by the Ukraine crisis.

    The ISS space laboratory has been orbiting the Earth at roughly 28,000km per hour since 1998.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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