“What you got to see today was the result of a lot of practice and great engineering,” Gerstenmaier told the Baikonur news briefing. “Flying this profile with the Progress vehicles gave us the assurance that when we needed to do this with crew, it would work as smoothly as you saw it work today.”
In addition to furthering research objectives, the faster Soyuz transits could increase the comfort of space station crews in the early hours of their acclimation to weightlessness. However, the short flights require more work by flight control teams to improve the precision of their tracking of the space station prior to the launch.
Command of the orbiting research lab will transition from Hadfield to Vinogradov, a veteran of two previous long-duration missions to the ISS and Russia’s former Mir space station, in mid May. Cassidy, a U.S. Navy Seal, is a shuttle mission veteran. Misurkin is flying for the first time.
They are scheduled to join future ISS crewmembers for up to seven spacewalks in the coming months. Some of the external activities will install power and data cables for the future arrival of Russia’s Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module. The new astronauts also are preparing for the arrival of Russian, European, Japanese, and U.S. commercial supply capsules.