Russian-US trio of astronauts launches to the International Space Station

James Marshall
October 14, 2020

Their journey will be the first manned flight to the ISS to last just over three hours before docking - a new fast-track profile that takes half the time of standard trips to the orbital lab.

Kate Rubins of NASA, together with Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos, lifted off on Russia's Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday (Oct. 14).

Since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian Federation to ferry its astronauts to the space station, an orbiting laboratory 250 miles above Earth that has housed worldwide crews of astronauts continuously for almost 20 years.

They will join the station's NASA commander, Chris Cassidy, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who have been aboard the complex since April and are scheduled to return to Earth in a week.

The mission is the last scheduled Russian flight carrying a U.S. crew member. "It has been tested with Progress [cargo] vehicles", Ryzhikov said in a pre-launch press conference on Tuesday. "We'll continue to train crews over here and we're going to have cosmonauts come to the Johnson Space Center and train".

"We will take with us additional equipment which will allow us to detect the place of this leak more precisely", he told reporters.

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying a USA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday and successfully reached orbit, live footage broadcast by Russia's space agency Roscosmos showed.

The Nasa duo returned safely on Aug 2 and a fresh SpaceX launch, this time anticipating a full-length half-year mission at the space station, is expected next month.

The Crew Dragon mission was pushed back from October 31 into November, and no new date has been set yet. The delay is meant to give SpaceX more time to conduct tests and review data from an aborted Falcon 9 launch earlier this month.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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