Three astronauts dock at ISS within three hours of launch

Rodiano Bonacci
Novembre 22, 2020

The NASA duo returned safely on August 2 and a fresh SpaceX launch, this time anticipating a full-length half-year mission at the space station, is expected next month.

NASA's Kate Rubins, and Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, will attempt a fast-track maneuver to reach the ISS in three hours.

The new crew members will join Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who will complete their station mission and land on Earth on the steppe of Kazakhstan on October 21, U.S. time, in the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft that brought them to the station on April 9, NASA said in a blog post.

There are now six crew members staffing the ISS, including cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, as well as NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy, who were already on the station. This was also the first time ever that a spacecraft took "a record short three hours and three minutes".

Wednesday's mission is the last scheduled Russian flight carrying a United States crew member.

Speaking during Tuesday's pre-launch news conference at Baikonur, Rubins emphasized that the crew spent weeks in quarantine at the Star City training facility outside Moscow and then on Baikonur to avoid any threat from the coronavirus.

Kate also said how she was looking forward to going back to space and welcoming the "first operational commercial crew vehicle to (the) station". The small leak hasn't posed any immediate danger to the crew.

"We will take with us additional equipment which will allow us to detect the place of this leak more precisely", he told reporters.

The launch is sandwiched between two SpaceX missions - the first crewed spaceflights to the ISS under NASA's aegis since 2011. The new astronaut team will stay 177 days on the ISS, during which the Russian side will carry out 55 experiments, four of them completely new, and three will go out twice into open space, in November and next February.

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