Despite the coronavirus pandemic that has brought the world to a standstill, three astronauts set off on their mission to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Russian-operated Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday, April 9. According to reports, while two astronauts - Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner belong to Russia's Roscosmos space agency, the third astronaut - Chris Cassidy belongs to NASA.
The astronauts' family and relatives were reportedly unable to make it to Baikonur for the launch given the travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the traditional farewell press conference on Wednesday, Cassidy said that the three-men crew was affected as their families could not reach before their blastoff. However, he added that they understand that the entire world is impacted by the crisis.
According to reports, a Soyuz-2.1a rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:05 a.m (local time). Further, the crew was scheduled to dock with the station's Zvezda service module at 10:16 a.m. Reportedly, this was the first time that a manned mission used the Soyuz-2.1a to reach the orbit after the Roscosmos had stopped using the rocket in 2019. Meanwhile, while everyone on earth is practicing self-quarantine, it is standard practice for the astronauts.
After originating from a Chinese 'wet market' in Wuhan, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has now spread to 209 countries and has infected at over 1.5 million people in a matter of weeks. The United States, which has overtaken China in the number of positive cases, has emerged as the latest epicenter of the pandemic with 4,54,602 cases and 16,074 deaths.
Presently, there are around 1,577,783 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the globe which has led to the death of around 93,675 people. Out of the total infected cases, about 330,590 people are said to have recovered but the contagious virus is continuing to disrupt lives across the world.
(Image Source: AP)