Russian-US Crew Launches on Fast Track to the Space Station
Russian-US Crew Launches on Fast Track to the Space Station
Latest Space Station crew docks in record time following successful launch
15 November, 2020, 07:25
A cosmonaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) captured stunning images of the record-setting Soyuz aircraft launch that brought three of his colleagues to the orbiting laboratory.
"Three hours and three minutes", tweeted Roscosmos chief Dmitriy Rogozin in celebration of the journey that concluded with docking four minutes ahead of schedule.
Ahead of the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the crew, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Russian Federation and Kate Rubins of the United States, spent more than a month in precautionary quarantine and were tested for the coronavirus several times.
There are now six crew members staffing the ISS, including cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, as well as NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy, who were already on the station. Docking will take place around 4:52 AM on Wednesday, and the crew must board the ISS within 2 hours.
This is the second space expedition for Rubins and Ryzhikov and first for Kud-Sverchkov.
"The cooperation between the United States and [Russia] occurred because changes in that part of the world made it possible", said Susan Eisenhower, author of Partners in Space: US-Russian Cooperation after the Cold War. Expedition 64 will officially kick off with the departure of the Expedition 63 crew, scheduled for October 20.
The mission of the Soyuz space craft carrying two Russian cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut was of vast importance to Russia's space agency Roscosmos, coming as the SpaceX programme relaunches manned spaceflight from the United States and ignites fresh talk of a space race between the two countries.
This isn't the first time, though, that this ultrafast method has been successful.
The Russian space programme has suffered a series of reverses in recent years, most notably the failure of a Soyuz rocket in 2018 just minutes after blast-off - the first such incident in the history of post-Soviet space travel.
During their six-month mission, Rubinz, Ryzykov and Kud-Sverchkov will perform hundreds of science experiments and technologies in various fields, including biology, biotechnology, physics and geology.
But their Dragon Endeavour craft only docked successfully with the ISS about nineteen hours after reaching orbit. During briefings held late last month, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said the launch represents "a critical milestone in the development of our ability to launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil - now sustainably".
The proposed new station "is too US-centric" Rogozin said.
In the future, NASA hopes that Russian astronauts will be able to trade seats with NASA astronauts flying in Soyuz and with Roscosmos, which can ride SpaceX and Boeing vehicles in return.
"We're planning to try some really interesting things like bio-printing tissues and growing cells in space and, of course, continuing our work on sequencing DNA", Rubins said.
"We spent two weeks at Star City and then 17 days at Baikonur in a very strict quarantine", Rubins said.
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