Russian Federation launches fresh crew to ISS on fast-track journey

James Marshall
November 24, 2020

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.

Expedition 64 NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, left, and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov, center, and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, right, of Roscosmos are seen as they depart Building 254 to head to their launch onboard the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft.

Normally, it would take twice as long for a crew to reach the space station orbiting 250 miles above Earth. The trip was an ultrafast, two-orbit one, thus the trip to the ISS took only three hours. The record was set during an unmanned resupply mission in August 2019.

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.

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.

Ryzhikov, a 46-year-old former military pilot, has spent 173 days in space compared to Rubins' 115 while Kud-Sverchkov, 37, is flying for the first time.

In 2016, Rubins sequenced DNA in space for the first time.

In case of such a failure, the station has extra supplies of oxygen.

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

As per reports, this is also being reported as the last Russian flight to carry a U.S. crew member.

Ahead of the launch, the NASA astronaut had expressed her excitement to Space.com.

The launch is sandwiched between two SpaceX missions - the first manned spaceflights to the ISS under NASA's aegis since 2011.

A NASA TV commentator said everything was normal, citing communications between Russian mission control and the crew, while Roscosmos said the capsule had successfully gone into orbit.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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