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Soyuz MS-17 crew launches ultra-fast two-orbit flight to space station

October 14, 2020

– An American astronaut and two Russian astronauts went to the International Space Station just before and to extend 20 years of continuous human presence in Earth orbit.

NASA’s Kate Rubins, along with Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos, took off on the Russian Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday (October 14th). Their launch on top of the Soyuz-2.1a missile began at 1:45 a.m. EDT (5:45 a.m. GMT; 10:45 a.m. local time in Kazakhstan).

The three crew members are to board their Soyuz in the Dawn station module at 4:52 a.m. EDT (0852 GMT) after a two-orbit rendezvous. This mission marks the first use by a crew of a “super-fast”

; flight plan, in which the Soyuz will arrive at the space station within three hours of launch, instead of following an previously accelerated six-hour runway or two-day runway.

“This two-orbit rendezvous has been modeled for a long time. Tested with Progress [cargo] vehicles, “Rizhikov told a news conference before launch on Tuesday.” We will reach the station much earlier than we reached Baikonur, leaving Moscow. “

The launch of Rubins, Rizhikov and Kud-Sverchkov came two and a half weeks before the 20th anniversary of the first crew of the space station, which resides in the orbital complex. The crew of Expedition 1, also composed of an American and two Russians – William Shepard, Yuri Lonchakov and Sergei Krikalev – began their stay on November 2, 2000.

“The 20th anniversary of the constant human presence in space will be quite an 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. It’s great to see such a giant machine that was built entirely by humans and flew away from the Earth’s surface continues to exist in space 20 years later. “

On board the space station since April, waiting for Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov, are the commander of expedition 63 Chris Cassidy from NASA and onboard engineers from Roscosmos Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Wagner. The six crew members will serve together for seven days before Cassidy, Ivanishin and Wagner return to MS-16 Alliance, leaving Rubins, Rizhikov and Kud-Sverchkov to begin an expedition.

Expedition 64, under the command of Ryzhikov, will be an addition of three people to the start of SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission with four astronauts. NASA’s Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japanese Aerospace Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi are scheduled to take off on the Dragon spacecraft by mid-November, until an engine problem that caused SpaceX to crash is resolved. October.

During their six-month mission, Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov will conduct hundreds of scientific experiments and technology demonstrations in a variety of disciplines, including biology, biotechnology, physics and Earth science.

“We plan to try some really interesting things like bioprinted tissues and growing cells in space and, of course, to continue our work on DNA sequencing,” said Rubins, who in 2016 became the first astronaut to sequence DNA in space.

The three residents of the station will also watch the arrival of several supply spacecraft, including Progress vehicles, the first of SpaceX’s second-generation SpaceX cargo capsules and the Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft. The three may also be at the station for the first docking from the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft in an unscrewed orbital flight test, which is aimed at the beginning of 2021.

Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov are scheduled to take space walks to prepare for the launch of Russia’s Pirs dock and the addition of the multifunctional laboratory module Nauka (“Science”). 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 was a personal stage: her 42nd birthday.

“I feel like this is going to be a birthday that I will never be able to win. It’s pretty funny to launch into space on your birthday,” Rubins said in an interview with collectSPACE. She is now the fifth American astronaut to launch on her birthday after Richard Trulli 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 previously served with Rubins on Expedition 49 in 2016. Kud-Sverchkov, a 37-year-old space engineer, is on his first mission.

Soyuz MS-17 is Russia’s 63rd Soyuz spacecraft, launched for the 2000 International Space Station, and 146th, which flew after the first Soyuz mission in 1967. It is the 100th spacecraft. , launched a crew to the space station, including the Union MS-10 Interruption during flight in 2018.

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