HISTORICAL WRITING FOR CBS NEWS & USED DOCUMENT
A Soyuz rocket carrying a Russian commander, a NASA pilot and a United Arab Emirates cosmonaut blasted into Kazakhstan on Wednesday, chased the International Space Station and slid for a perfect docking photo, docking an end-of-year schedule that includes up to a dozen space lanes.
With Soyuz Commander MS-15 / 61S Oleg Violinist of controls flanked on the left by flight engineer Jessica Meir and on the right by Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, the Soyuz-FG rocket roared to life and ascended at 9:57:43 PM EDT ( 18:57 local time), the moment the Earth's rotation moves the tampon into the plane of the station's orbit.  The launch came one day after the Japanese space agency launched an unmanned HTV freighter to a station carrying a battery backup kit for the solar energy system and lab equipment to help repair a $ 2 billion space detector.
Following a problem-free ascent into space, Violinist and Meir observe the four orbital encounters with the space station, moving to dock at the back port of the Russian Star module at 3:42 PM.
In readiness to meet their newcomers Teammates on board were Expedition 60 Commander Alexei Ovchinin, fellow astronaut Alexander Skvortsov, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, and NASA astronauts Nick Hague, Christina Koch, and Drew Morgan. The first major item on the expanded crew's agenda is the arrival of the HTV cargo ship on Saturday morning.
Five space lanes are planned next month to replace 12 aging batteries with six more powerful lithium-ion power packs carried in the HTV load bay.
Another half-dozen EVAs are planned in November and December to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, an unprecedented sequence that will come amid ongoing cargo delivery missions, a full list of onboard investigations, Russian space lanes and possible visits Commercial Crew
Meir, who holds a license for a private pilot and a doctorate in marine biology, serves as a violin pilot in a narrow cockpit of the Union, trained to take emergencies and fly a spacecraft if necessary. She has also been trained in space paths and hopes to take off from the station at some point during her stay.
Violinist is making her third trip to the station and is expected to participate in a Russian space shuttle in November. He is a veteran of three previous EVAs.
"He's a great man," Meir said. "He is an experienced astronaut, so he brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the table for us. This is my first space flight and Hazzaa Ali Almansoori, the first United Arab Emirates astronaut is also brand new, he has been training as an astronaut for a year. That is why we often turn to Oleg for advice. "
Almansoori is the 10th" space flight participant "to visit the laboratory complex and the first since Cirque du Soleil's Guy Laliberte in 2009.
" This mission is a great milestone because for me personally and my country "The United Arab Emirates and the whole of the Arab region as a whole," Almansoori said in a preliminary briefing. "I look forward to joining the station crew and working with them on a daily basis and conducting experiments. I look forward to returning with knowledge and experience to share with everyone.
Fighter Pilot, Almansoori is sponsored by the UAE Government. But as with earlier "space tourists," he will enjoy a relatively short stay in orbit – eight days – before returning to Earth on October 3 with Ovchinin and The Hague, completing a 202-day mission.
Ovchinin, The Hague, and Koch boarded the Soyuz MS-12 / 58S spacecraft on March 14. Koch's stay aboard the station was extended to February, and she will join Skvortsov and Parmitano for the voyage home on their Soyuz MS-13 / 59S spacecraft in nearly a year – 328 days – in space.
Koch will set a new record for the longest single flight by a female astronaut on December 28, past the Peggy Whitson mark of 289 days.
Almansori will take Koch's place on board the MS-12 / 58S ferry, coming on October 3. Morgan, who started with Skvortsov and Parmitano on July 20, will join Violin and Meir when they return to Earth next April. His flight will last 255 days.
Wednesday's launch, together with Japan's launch of HTV cargo ship on Tuesday (US time), launches one of the most challenging station schedules ever attempted with 11 US space shuttles scheduled between now and the end of the year and Russian EVA in November.
Along with arriving on HTV-8 on Saturday, the crew expects to welcome three more cargo ships and possibly a Boeing CST-100 Starliner ferry if NASA clears it for launch before the end of a year of a long-awaited unmanned test flight.
Boeing and SpaceX build merchant ferryboats to end NASA's sole dependence on Soyuz. However, the program has suffered from a series of funding shortfalls and technical problems, and it is not yet clear when any of the companies will be clear about launching astronauts' crews on initial test flights.
This is a critical problem for NASA, as the Russians plan to launch only two Soyuz spacecraft next year, one in March and the other in October. In the absence of an American ferry, the train station will drop from six to three next April when Violin, Meir and Morgan return to Earth.
SpaceX's first manned test flight, known as the Demo-2, is on hold after an explosion during a ground test in April that destroyed an earlier vehicle. The Demo-2 mission, when it finally flies, will transport two NASA astronauts to the eight-day mission station.
Boeing's first manned test flight, a mission known as CFT, will last for six months, and this is a flight NASA relies on to keep the station fully staffed until one or both companies begin operational rotary crew operations. .
"Much of the sales team date has been a little on the go lately," Meir said. "But it looks like we should be seeing a (unmanned) Boeing flight, I think that's going to happen during our mission, and I was training on the ground to make this mission a success.
"In addition, of course, we hope to see some of the first astronauts on the merchant crew during our mission. That would be great. … The key is flexibility and the ability to adapt. This is something that our training really allows us to do. We will be ready for any scenario. "
The upcoming space paths represent the most significant short-term challenge with five required to install the batteries on board the HTV-8 spacecraft and up to half a dozen required to repair the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, Particle Physics Experiment with high priority mounted on the feed farm of the station.
The AMS tool is not designed to be repaired by space astronauts, and NASA planners say EVAs needed to repair a damaged pump and perform other superstructures represent the most complex space paths after space repair. Hubble Showcase. AMS EVA will be performed by Parmitano and Morgan.
Battery installation work is not so technically complicated, but it creates additional challenges that require space couplers to work close to the edge of the shoulder edge range at the far left of the NASA solar farm yet to name astronauts who would do the battery work, but Meir, Koch and Morgan were trained.
"I really enjoy the potential to make a space path, since this is really it," I've always imagined doing my whole life, "Meir said.
The station's power farms stretch the length of a football field and have with eight huge solar wings, four at each end, in pairs, the arrays rotate like slow-moving wheels as the station flies in its orbit to maximize the amount of sunlight reaching the solar cells.
When the station is on the sunny with The power is supplied directly to the laboratory's innumerable electrical systems, while recharging four sets of massive batteries, located at the base of each array of arrays, when the station goes into orbital darkness, the batteries start smoothly to keep the station powered.  The eight power lines of the station are initially supported by 48 nickel-hydrogen – NiH2 – batteries, six per channel. Twenty-four batteries, in two sets of 12 each, were mounted at the base of the wings of the solar array on the right or right side of the main tube of the station with two sets of 12 on the port or on the left side.  But the original batteries have lost power over the years and NASA is in the process of replacing the four sets with 24 smaller, more efficient lithium-ion Li-Ion batteries. Spare units pack the punch twice, so only six are needed per set.
The cargo ship HTV-6 delivered the first set of replacements in December 2016. They were installed on the starboard 4 or segment of the S4 solar array during two space lanes in January 2017. NASA installed a second set delivered by the cargo ship HTV-7 last September at port 4 or P4 arrays.
The third set, launched on Tuesday, will be installed at the far left end or port 6, a power farm segment.
Assuming the work is going smoothly, NASA managers hope to begin AMS repair work early in mid-November. Five to six space paths may be required.
The $ 2 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a project led by Nobel Laureate Samuel Ting, is designed to detect high energy cosmic rays and measure any antimatter that may be present to learn more about dark matter, dark energy and as an extension, the evolution of the cosmos. The instrument was carried over to the next shuttle mission and installed in May 2011.
"It's a pretty incredible piece of equipment, it actually measures high energy radiation, cosmic rays coming from different stars, looking for evidence of antimatter and dark matter to let's start answering more questions about the origin of our universe, "said Meir.
" Unfortunately, one of the pumps that is vital to this instrument's thermal control system is broken. Well, it's not broken yet, but it's humiliating. And so we're going to do a series of space paths during the mission to repair this pump. … It is not designed to be fixed (in space). "
That makes the job" sort of like the Hubble Space Telescope scenario where you didn't actually design tools for it or interfaces for it, "Meir said." So it's a very complex and challenging space expense, and we're very excited to have let's do this during our mission. "