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HomeSpaceNASA astronaut launches to area station aboard Russian rocket – Spaceflight Now

NASA astronaut launches to area station aboard Russian rocket – Spaceflight Now

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STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS & USED WITH PERMISSION

A Soyuz rocket lifts off Sept. 21 with a crew of three heading for the Worldwide Area Station. Credit score: NASA/Invoice Ingalls

Regardless of severely strained U.S.-Russian international relations, an American astronaut joined two Russian cosmonauts aboard a Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan and rocketed into orbit Wednesday on a two-orbit flight to the Worldwide Area Station.

With commander Sergey Prokopyev on the controls, flanked on the left by co-pilot Dmitry Petelin and on the proper by NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, the Soyuz 2.1a rocket roared to life at 9:54 a.m. EDT (6:54 p.m. native time) and easily climbed away from its firing stand on the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

All three crew members appeared relaxed in cockpit video as they monitored their devices, marking off milestones on the best way to orbit. Eight minutes and 45 seconds after liftoff, the Soyuz separated from the booster’s third stage, photo voltaic panels unfolded and the spacecraft set off after the area station.

The launching was timed to allow a fast-track two-orbit rendezvous process, permitting Prokopyev and his crewmates to meet up with the orbital outpost three hours and 16 minutes after launch. Docking on the Rassvet module’s Earth-facing port occurred round 1:11 p.m. EDT.

“We had a spectacular view of the #Soyuz launch!” the station crew tweeted. “Sergey, Dmitry and Frank will come knocking on our door in simply a few hours… wanting ahead to welcoming them to their new dwelling!”

Standing by to do exactly that shall be Expedition 67 commander Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov, who launched final March aboard the Soyuz MS-21/67S ferry ship. Additionally on board the ISS: SpaceX Crew 4 commander Kjell Lindgren and his three crewmates, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins and European Area Company astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

Rubio shall be a part of the U.S.-sponsored crew complement, though he’ll stay a member of the Soyuz MS-22/68S crew. His seat is the primary below a brand new settlement between NASA and the Russian area company to renew launching astronauts aboard the Soyuz and to start carrying cosmonauts aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The purpose is to make sure one crew member from every nation is at all times on board the station even when a Soyuz or NASA ferry ship is compelled to depart early in an emergency, taking its crew again to Earth together with it.

“From the ISS facet, I feel it is vitally essential in that it provides us redundancy and the power to answer unexpected circumstances,” Rubio stated in a pre-launch interview with CBS Information. “Primarily, it provides us a backup plan.”

The arrival of the brand new Soyuz crew units up a rigorously choreographed sequence to interchange all seven members of the station’s present crew.

If all goes nicely, Artemyev, Korsakov and Matveev will return to Earth on Sept. 29, touchdown on the steppe of Kazakhstan to wrap up a 194-day mission.

4 days later, the Crew Dragon Endurance is scheduled for launch from Florida carrying Crew 5 commander Nicole Mann, pilot Josh Cassada, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina. Together with a piloted check flight, the launching will mark SpaceX’s seventh crewed station mission.

After a weeklong handover to assist familiarize their replacements with station operations, Lindgren, Hines, Watkins and Cristoforetti will undock and return to Earth on Oct. 10 aboard their very own Crew Dragon — Freedom — to shut out a 166-day mission that started with launch final April.

The Soyuz MS-22 crew prepares to board their spacecraft earlier than launch Wednesday. From high to backside: Dmitry Petelin, Frank Rubio, and commander Sergey Prokopyev. Credit score: NASA/Invoice Ingalls

Kikina is the primary cosmonaut to be assigned to a Crew Dragon flight and the primary to trip an American spacecraft since late 2002 when the shuttle Endeavour carried one cosmonaut as much as the station and introduced two others again to Earth. Kikina will dwell and work within the Russian section, though she’ll stay a member of the SpaceX crew.

Russian Soyuz spacecraft carried joint crews to the lab complicated between the shuttle’s retirement in 2011 and the debut of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, which started carrying astronauts to orbit in 2020. These seats price NASA as much as $90 million every.

For the previous two years, NASA managers labored with their Russian counterparts to hammer out an settlement to start bartered seat swaps, launching one NASA astronaut aboard every Soyuz going to station and one cosmonaut aboard every Crew Dragon. No cash would adjustments fingers as a result of either side profit.

As a result of crews should launch and land on the identical car, a medical emergency or another main downside may power one crew to depart the station and return to Earth sooner than deliberate. The seat swap settlement ensures that no less than one NASA astronaut and one cosmonaut are on board station always to function their respective programs.

The Russians present the propellant and rocket energy wanted to maintain the station in orbit and to dodge area particles whereas NASA supplies many of the lab’s electrical energy, near-continuous communications and the large gyroscopes that maintain the outpost correctly oriented. Crews will not be cross-trained to function one another’s programs.

Kikina is the primary cosmonaut to fly below the not too long ago signed seat swap settlement whereas Rubio is the primary American to trip a Soyuz since astronaut Mark Vande Hei took off on a station flight in April 2021.

The settlement took longer than anticipated as a result of the Russians first needed to guage the protection of the Crew Dragon system after which due to more and more strained relations within the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Rubio took the drawn-out negotiations in stride.

“You will need to notice there’s a protracted standing historical past of cooperation proper again to the Apollo-Soyuz program, to the shuttle-Mir program and now 20-plus years of working collectively on the ISS,” he stated.

“It simply builds camaraderie and belief in a method that’s crucial to take care of, particularly in moments like this when there are tensions and different points. So I’m very honored to signify our nation, and I’m proud to be right here. I can’t emphasize sufficient how a lot of a great factor I feel that is.”

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