Soyuz Capsule Reaches ISS Despite Technical Hitch

Three crew members were successfully delivered to the ISS, although there were fears for their safety during the voyage. A solar array failed to deploy, leaving the Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft at half capacity.

Soyuz Capsule Reaches ISS Despite Technical Hitch

The vehicles are made up of a crew capsule, orbital module and a service module powered by two solar arrays, and have capacity for three crew.

Both arrays were supposed to deploy just after launch, but one became stuck. Russian engineers were worried that the equipment would obstruct a radiator and lead to rising temperatures inside the craft, but crew members reported that all was well.

“The port solar array isn’t deployed but the power situation is fine. It just doesn’t look good from the point of view of photographs,” reported one of the crew. “We’re eating and drinking, and we’re in good spirits. Everything is as it should be.”

Soyuz reaches ISS: An historic moment

When the Soyuz successfully docked with the space station at 10.11 p.m. EDT, Elena Serova made history in becoming the first female cosmonaut ever to visit the ISS. She was accompanied by NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore and cosmonaut Alexander Samokutyaev.

The trio are to live and work on the space station until March 2015. The three existing crew members, astronaut Reid Wiseman of NASA; Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency; and Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suarev are due to return to Earth in November 2014.

Fears for the future of the ISS

The ISS provides a base for 15 different nations to cooperate in space research, overseen by Russia and the United States.

Analysts fear for the future of the ISS, citing a senior Russian government official who said that Moscow would reject any U.S. request to continue using the station beyond 2020.

Relations between the two nations have worsened over the past year due to Moscow’s annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea, retaliatory economic sanctions by the U.S. and the belief that Russia is supporting pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, despite official denials from Moscow.