NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, members of the International Space Station expedition 64, wave as they board the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft prior to the launch from the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday.
Once the crew successfully docks with the ISS, they will relieve the station's NASA commander, Chris Cassidy, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who will return to Earth next week.
The crew will spend six months on board until April next year. Next year, for the first time since the start of the ISS program 20 years ago, Russian Federation will fly all-Russian crews on Soyuz. The Russians have managed to curtail it further still, with today's three-hour-and-three-minute trek, which is a new record (the previous record was three hours and 18 minutes, set by the Progress MS-17 cargo spacecraft on July 23, 2020).
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The NASA duo returned safely on August 2 and a fresh SpaceX launch, this time anticipating a full-length half-year mission to the space station, is expected next month. During the first spaceflight of Rubins back in 2016, she actually became the very first person to be able to sequence DNA in outer space.
It is reported that all those present at the start, including the crew members, were wearing masks.
When NASA retired the US space shuttle program in 2011, it was left entirely dependent on purchasing rides from Russian Federation - a transaction that has subsidized Russia's launch efforts for a decade. It could be the last time NASA used Roscosmos to get astronauts into orbit.More news: Honda's next-gen Civic to be unveiled November 17 - on Twitch
Rogozin, now the head of Roscosmos, said at a space conference on Monday: "In our view the Gateway in its current form is too USA -centric ... so will most likely refrain from large-scale participation in [the project]".
The emergence of private players SpaceX and Boeing - part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program - has fuelled talk of a new "space race" between a number of countries.
Rubinz, Ryzykov, and Kud-Sverchkov began their 20-year anniversary of the first space station crew to take up residence in the B-Ribital complex two weeks ago.More news: Happy Diwali 2020 Wishes: Sports Personalities Greet People
The launch of the Soyuz 1.2a rocket occurred at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 05:45:04 UTC (01:45:04 EDT) on October 14th. However, NASA has not yet announced such a deal, so it is unclear when the next American astronauts will fly aboard the Soyuz after performing this mission.
The trio docked at the ISS around three hours later, arriving at 7:48 p.m. AEDT.More news: Half-Life: Alyx developer commentary adds three hours of new content