Russia’s Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft, carrying a NASA astronaut and two cosmonauts, has docked to International Space Station after it blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on October 14. The trio of space travellers on the six-month mission includes NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos.
The mission will coincide with the 20th anniversary of ISS, marking 20 years of continuous human presence in space. The crew members embarked on a two-orbit, three-hour journey to the space station where they will join Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The orbiting laboratory’s population has temporarily increased to six people.
LIVE NOW: Welcome home! Kate Rubins of NASA and Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos launched from Earth at 1:45am ET and are now docking to their new home, @Space_Station. Watch live: https://t.co/mcyRkSFqMq https://t.co/mcyRkSFqMq— NASA (@NASA) October 14, 2020
It was the second spaceflight for Rubins and Ryzhikov and the first for Kud-Sverchkov. The Expedition 64 crew will conduct research in technology development, Earth science, biology, and human research among others. The launch comes nearly two weeks ahead of the launch of SpaceX Crew-1 mission.
NASA and SpaceX are targeting October 31 as the launch date of SpaceX Crew-1 mission to deconflict the arrival from the Soyuz launch and landing operations. The departure of a Soyuz from the space station is scheduled for October 21. The US space agency had said that the additional time is required to ensure closure of all open work ahead of the Crew-1 arrival.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft will be launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft will be carrying astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker from NASA and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
It will the first time when an international crew will fly aboard a NASA-certified, commercially-owned and operated American rocket and spacecraft from American soil. The Crew-1 astronauts are scheduled to arrive at the space station for a six-month science mission aboard the orbiting laboratory.