Soyuz Blasts off with 2 Americans and 1 Russian Bound for International Space Station

The Soyuz MS-08
spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, and Oleg
Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, lifts off from the Baikonur
Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1:44 p.m. EDT March 21, 2018 (11:44 p.m. Baikonur
time). The crew is scheduled to dock to the International Space Station at 3:41
p.m. March 23, 2018.  Credits: NASA/Joel
Kowsky

Ken Kremer     SpaceUpClose.com     21 Mar 2018
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL- A Russian Soyuz capsule blasted off successfully
today, Wednesday, March 21,
from
the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with a fresh trio of veteran astronauts
and cosmonauts starting a two day voyage bound for the International Space
Station.
The all male trio comprising
two NASA astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut
launched
aboard their Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan
at 1:44 p.m. EDT Wednesday (11:44 p.m. Baikonur time) into the plane of the space stations orbit. The launch was broadcast
live on NASA TV.
The Expedition 55 crew includes Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev of
Roscosmos and astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel of NASA reached orbit as
planned eight and a half minutes after liftoff.


The Soyuz MS-08 rocket is launched with Expedition
55 Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos and astronauts Ricky Arnold and
Drew Feustel of NASA, Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in
Kazakhstan.
  Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky






The
Soyuz separated from the third stage
and the solar arrays and navigation antennas deployed  as planned during orbital insertion.

The Soyuz MS-08 rocket is launched with Expedition
55 Soyuz Commander Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos and astronauts Ricky Arnold and
Drew Feustel of NASA, Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in
Kazakhstan.   Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
After a two day orbital
chase with
carefully choreographed thruster firings
veteran spaceflyers Feustal, Arnold and Artemyev are
scheduled to dock the Soyuz to the space station’s Russian Rassvet module at
3:41 p.m. EDT on
Friday, March 23,
and begin a 5 month stay.
Coverage of the rendezvous and docking will begin at 3 p.m.
on NASA TV, followed at 5 p.m. by coverage of the opening of hatches between
the spacecraft and station.
The arrival of
the new Expedition 55 crew will restore the space station to its full
complement of six crew members living and working on the orbiting outpost.
Feustal, Arnold
and Artemyev join the existing trio of Scott Tingle
of NASA, Expedition 55
Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan
Aerospace Exploration Agency already on board launching on
Soyuz MS-07 in December 2017.

Expedition 55 flight engineer Drew Feustel of
NASA, top, flight engineer Ricky Arnold of NASA, middle, and Soyuz Commander
Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos, bottom, are seen on the launchpad prior to boarding
the Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft for launch, Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at the
Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Feustel, Arnold, and Artemyev will spend the
next five months living and working aboard the International Space Station.  Credit:
(NASA/Joel Kowsky)

The ISS has been
continuously occupied for more than 17 years.
Shkaplerov, Tingle and Kanai are scheduled to remain aboard
the station until June 2018, while Feustel, Arnold and Artemyev are slated to
return to Earth in late August after 167 days on orbit.

The Expedition 55-56
crew poses for a picture at the conclusion of a press conference, Tuesday,
March 20, 2018 at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky




This is Feustel’s 3rd mission – including one to
repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope – and the second for Arnold and
Artemyev.



The mission “continues the long-term increase in crew size
on the U.S. segment from three to four, allowing NASA to maximize time
dedicated to research on the space station,” said NASA.

They will continue investigations working on over 250 science
experiments.  

At least 2 spacewalks are planned during Expedition 55.

“Highlights of upcoming investigations include: a new
facility
to test materials, coatings and components of other large
experiments in the harsh environment of space; a study on the effects of
microgravity on bone marrow
and blood cells produced in bone marrow; and a newly-developed passive nutrient
delivery system
for the Veggie
plant growth facility.”



The next US cargo resupply mission is slated for blastoff on
April 2 with on the SpaceX Falcon9/Dragon CRS-14 flight carrying over 5000 pounds
of science and supplies to the ISS.
Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX,
ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK and more
space and mission
reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station, Florida.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing
Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com –
twitter @ken_kremer –
ken
at kenkremer.com

Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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