Ground Control to Major Tim, take your protein pills and put your helmet on.

A British astronaut on the ISS? It all looked a little Mr Bean Goes to Space on the news, but we finally did it!

Hatches between the International Space Station and an arriving Soyuz spacecraft opened at 2:58 p.m. EST Tuesday, signalling the arrival of three new crew members, including British astronaut Major Tim Peake (as well as another Tim, Tim Kopra of NASA). They will join other residents on the station to continue research that advances NASA’s journey to Mars.

Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:03 a.m. and, after orbiting Earth four times, manually docked to the station at 12:33 p.m. Ground Control to Major Tim, take your protein pills and put your helmet on.

Ground Control to Major Tim, take your protein pills and put your helmet on.
Ground Control to Major Tim, take your protein pills and put your helmet on.

The arrival of Kopra, Malenchenko and Major Tim returns the station’s crew complement to six. The three join Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos. During more than five months on humanity’s only microgravity laboratory, the Expedition 46 crew members will conduct 250 science investigation in fields including biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

Ongoing station research also includes the Microbial Payload Tracking Series project, which uses microbial analysis techniques to establish a census of the micro-organisms living on surfaces and in the atmosphere of the space station. Along with crew members and experimental payloads, the space station is home to a variety of microbes, which are a cleaning nuisance and potentially threatening to crew health and station equipment. Analysing these microbes can help determine whether some are more virulent in space, and which genetic changes might be involved in this response. Results from the investigation can be used to evaluate cleaning strategies, and to mitigate microbe-related risks to crew health and spacecraft system performance.

The crew members are scheduled to receive several cargo spacecraft – including multiple U.S. commercial resupply vehicles from SpaceX and Orbital ATK – each delivering tons of food, fuel, supplies and research.

SpaceX will deliver on its eighth commercial resupply services mission a technology project that could help drive future exploration. Developed under a public-private partnership, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module is an expandable habitat technology demonstration for the International Space Station. Expandable habitats can greatly decrease the amount of transport volume for future space missions, weighing less and taking up less room on a rocket. These habitats have the potential to provide a comfortable area for astronauts to live and work, as well as a varying degree of protection from solar and cosmic radiation, space debris and other elements of the space environment.

Highly reliable habitation systems will be essential to keep future crews healthy and productive in the deep-space environment during missions in lunar orbit where the systems will be validated for future missions to Mars that could last as long as 1,100 days.

This is Ground Control to Major Tim, you’ve really made the grade and the papers want to know whose shirts you wear. Now it’s time to leave the capsule if you dare!


Colonel Frog is a long time science fiction and fantasy fan. He loves reading novels in the field, and he also enjoys watching movies (as well as reading lots of other genre books).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.