– An American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts launched on the International Space Station shortly before and to extend 20 years of continuous human presence in Earth’s orbit.
NASA’s Kate Rubins, along with Roscosmos’s Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, took off on Wednesday (October 14) from the Russian Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. Their launch, atop a Soyuz-2.1a rocket, began at 1:45 am EDT (0545 GMT; 10:45 Kazakh local time).
The three crew members are expected to dock their Soyuz at the station’s Rassvet module at 4:52 am EDT (0852 GMT) after a two-orbit rendezvous. This mission marks the crew̵
“This two-orbit rendezvous has been modeled for quite some time. It has been tested with Progress [cargo] “Ryzhikov said at a pre-launch press conference on Tuesday.” We will reach the station much earlier than we reached Baikonur exiting Moscow. “
The launch of Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov took place two and a half weeks before the twentieth anniversary of the residence of the first crew of the space station in the orbital complex. The Expedition 1 crew, also consisting of an American and two Russians – William Shepard, Yuri Lonchakov and Sergei Krikalev – began their stay on November 2, 2000.
“The 20th anniversary of a continued human presence in space will be a real event and I think all three of us are looking forward to being there during that time,” Rubins said. “I think the International Space Station is one of the most incredible engineering achievements in human history and certainly ranks very high in space flight results. It is a real wonder to see such a giant machine that was built entirely by humans and flown away. from the surface. of the Earth still persists in space 20 years later. “
Aboard the space station since April, waiting for Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov, are Expedition 63 commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and Roscosmos flight engineers Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The six crew members will serve together for seven days before Cassidy, Ivanishin, and Vagner return to Earth on the Soyuz MS-16, leaving Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov to begin Expedition 64.
Expedition 64, under Ryzhikov’s command, will be a complement for three people until the launch of the SpaceX Crew-1 mission with four astronauts. Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker of NASA and astronaut Soichi Noguchi of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are expected to take off in a Dragon spacecraft by mid-November, pending resolution of an engine problem that led to the outage. of a SpaceX launch on October 2nd.
During their six-month mission, Rubins, Ryzhikov, and Kud-Sverchkov will conduct hundreds of scientific experiments and technology demonstrations in a diverse field of disciplines, including biology, biotechnology, physical and earth sciences.
“We plan to try some really cool things like bioprinting tissues and growing cells in space and, of course, continue our work on DNA sequencing,” said Rubins, who in 2016 became the first astronaut to sequence. DNA in space.
The station’s three residents will also oversee the arrival of several refueling spacecraft, including Progress vehicles, the first of SpaceX’s second-generation Dragon cargo pods, and a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft. The three could also be on the station for the first docking by a Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on an unmanned orbital flight test, which is slated for early 2021.
Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov are planning to take spacewalks to prepare for the landing of the Russian Pirs docking compartment and the addition of the Nauka (“Science”) multipurpose laboratory module. The Pirs module was first added to the space station in 2001.
For Rubins, a microbiologist who lived on the space station for 115 days in 2016, Wednesday’s launch marked a personal milestone: his 42nd birthday.
“I feel like this is going to be a birthday I’ll never be able to beat. It’s pretty fun to jump into space for your birthday,” Rubins said in an interview with collectSPACE. She is now the fifth US astronaut to be launched on her birthday after Richard Truly on STS-2 in 1981, Dale Gardner on STS-51A in 1984, Kent Rominger on STS-85 in 1997 and John Phillips on Soyuz TMA-6 in 2005.
Ryzhikov, a 46-year-old Russian Air Force pilot, is also on his second space flight, having served with Rubins on Expedition 49 in 2016. Kud-Sverchkov, a 37-year-old aerospace engineer, is on his first mission.
Soyuz MS-17 is the 63rd Russian Soyuz spacecraft to launch for the International Space Station since 2000 and the 146th to fly since the first Soyuz mission in 1967. It is the 100th spacecraft to launch a crew to the space station, including the Soyuz MS -10 break in flight in 2018.