A Soyuz capsule carrying three astronauts to the International Space Station blasted off at around 9pm GMT last night. Despite only deploying one of two solar panels, the capsule has docked safely, and it’s welcome party (and fresh food!) time on the ISS.
The Soyuz launch has been delayed. It was meant to go ahead in May, but earlier this year, a Russian Progress cargo mission, which used the same type of rocket booster, failed. The Russian space agency decided to delay the launch until they’d investigated the failure.
Today’s Soyuz launch went flawlessly at first, but once the capsule had reached a safe altitude outside the Earth’s atmosphere, its solar arrays failed to deploy. This isn’t the first time that has happened: a Soyuz launch last September had the same problem. It’s not a critical failure for the spacecraft, but the diminished power can potentially lead to problems like overheating.
The ISS, complete with its new Soyuz
Either way, the docking procedure went successfully, and the Soyuz’s second wing even deployed after docking with the ISS. All’s well that ends well.
Top image of a one-winged Soyuz approaching the ISS, from September 2014. All images credit NASA