A few hours ago the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and after almost exactly six hours reached the International Space Station carrying three new crew members. The Soyuz traveled on the fast path normally used.
The three new members of the crew of the International Space Station, who complete the Expedition 42 crew, are:
Samantha Cristoforetti. Born on April 26, 1977 in Milan, Italy, and grew up in Malè, she graduated in mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Munich, in Germany. She enlisted in the Italian Air Force in 2001 and in 2005 graduated and earned a degree in aeronautical sciences. In 2005 she specialized at the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training in Wichita Falls, Texas, USA. In 2009 she was selected as an astronaut by ESA and is the first Italian woman to travel in space. Her mission was called Futura. In 2013 she received the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. She’s a fan of Star Trek and also of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy so it seems destiny that she started her first mission with the Expedition 42.
Anton Nikolaevich Shkaplerov. Born on February 28, 1972 in Sevastopol, in the then USSR and now in Ukraine, he started flying when he was very young, so much that he completed flight training on the Yak-52 at the Sevastopol Aviation Club in 1989. He graduated from the Kachinsk Air Force Pilot School in 1994 as a pilot-engineer. He served as an instructor pilot in the Russian Air Force piloting various airplane models and as a parachute instructor. In 2003 he was selected as a cosmonaut candidate and started training. He already served on the International Space Station with the Expedition 29/30 also performing a spacewalk. He’s married to Tatyana Petrovna and together they have two daughters.
Terry W. Virts, Jr. Born on December 1, 1967 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, he earned a degree in mathematics US Air Force Academy in 1989 and a master in aeronautical sciences from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1997. In 2000 he was selected as a pilot by NASA and was part of the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour on mission STS-130.
According to schedule, the new crew members will return to Earth in May 2015. On the International Space Station, they’ll perform routine maintenance, a huge number of scientific experiments and will handle the arrival and departure of various spacecraft.