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MOSCOW, December 16. /TASS/. Russia's Soyuz TMA-19M manned spacecraft with a new orbital expedition crew docked with the International Space Station (ISS) in a manual, and not automatic mode, because of the lack of thrust in one of the docking and orientation engines, a source in the rocket and space industry told TASS on Wednesday.
The Soyuz-TMA19M crew comprises Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, and the UK astronaut Tim Peake of the European Space Agency (ESA).
"The reason for switching to the manual mode was the lack of thrust in one of the docking and orientation engines," the source said.
Another source reported previously that the Kurs-A automatic docking system glitch occurred due to interference of the radio signal from the US cargo spacecraft Cygnus (docked to the ISS since December 9).
Launched on December 15, the Soyuz TMA-19M nominally docked to the ISS on the same day, six hours after blast-off, in a manual mode. The Soyuz ship several times approached the docking port using the rendezvous system Kurs and moved away from the station, after which the astronauts had to switch to manual docking. Commander Yuri Malenchenko took manual control of the spaceship.
Trained for manual flying and building on extensive flight experience, Malenchenko guided the Soyuz back to is docking port after the spacecraft started backing away in its initial approach to ISS. Stabilizing the spacecraft, Malenchenko lined up with the Rassvet module and conducted a manual docking at 17:33 UTC, marking the crew’s arrival at their home in space for the next six and a half months. Experienced Soyuz Commander Malenchenko, ISS veteran Tim Kopra and Tim Peake, the first British Astronaut to visit ISS, have a busy schedule outlined for their seven-month stay living and working aboard the orbiting laboratory.
This is Malenchenko’s sixth mission in space. Kopra has been in space once. Peake is in orbit for the first time. The crew are scheduled to return on June 5, 2016. Malenchenko is to spend in space 174 days. This will take to 815 days the overall duration of his space missions. He will become the world’s number two by this parameter. The current record holder is Russia’s Gennady Padalka with five flights in space, which have lasted 878 days.