Soyuz Rocket Launch
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The Soyuz Rocket Launch: Milestone in Space Travel History

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The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft launched three crew members to the International Space Station(ISS) in minimal time. Usual journies to the ISS would take up to six hours, where this time, it was just a matter of three hours. This is the 145th Soyuz rocket with a crew, and it orbited the earth only twice. The crew members were sent for a six-month mission in the ISS. During their board, they will also welcome the SpaceX-1 crew.

The crew members were of the Expedition 63 crew, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov from Russia(cosmonauts), and Kathleen Rubins from NASA(astronaut). Ryzhikov and Rubins were on their second trip, while it was the first flight for Kud-Sverchkov to ISS. The Soyuz Rocket was launched on October 14 from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 05:45 GMT Wednesday, operated by Roscomos(Russian space agency). This journey of the Soyuz even beat the fastest time of spacecraft with supplies for the space station.

The Soyuz MS-17 Crew
Kate Rubins from NASA(left), Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscomos(center), Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscomos(right)
Image Credits: ANDREY_SHELPIN, Copyright: GCTC

“A new record for flights to the International Space Station was set – the total time from launch to docking of the Soyuz MS-17 was three hours and three minutes,” says Roscomos. The Soyuz crew from this launch will join Chris Cassidy of NASA, and Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of Roscomos. This past crew, living on the ISS since April, will return to earth on October 21 on Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft.

The video of the launching of the Soyuz spacecraft is available at the official YouTube channel of NASA. Or watch here:

Upcoming Launches

Roscomos had placed cosmonaut Nikolai Chub as a crew member on earlier planning, but NASA paid $90.25 to Russia for the seat of Kate Rubins. The agencies indicate that this will be the last time NASA will be paying for a seat in the Soyuz spacecraft. NASA desires for mixed seats in the spacecraft for both NASA and Roscomos, in exchange for NASA’s SpaceX and Boeing vehicles. However, Russia is still to agree, and NASA has not announced the news yet.

However, NASA is now expecting to handle astronauts’ transport to and from the ISS with commercial crew missions. Some of the recent upcoming launches of the SpaceX mission are:

  • SpaceX Crew-1 Mission, in mid-November, with Soichi Noguchi, Japanese astronaut from JAXA(Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker from NASA
  • SpaceX Crew-2 Mission, in spring 2021, with astronauts from NASA, JAXA, and ESA(European Space Agency)

Despite NASA’s need, Russia plans the next long-duration Soyuz Mission in April 2021 with three Roscomos astronauts. “We still believe that it’s critically important. I think there’s broad agreement that, if both countries want to maintain a permanent presence on the International Space Station, that is the end state that we need to achieve.” says NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about the mixed-crew mission. Kathy Lueders, the NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, also indicates that NASA is waiting for the implementation of the mixed-crew mission to the ISS.

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