New Russian-American Trio Launches on Soyuz and Docks to Space Station

New Russian-American Trio Launches on Soyuz and Docks to Space Station
The Soyuz MS-16 lifts off from Site 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Thursday, April 9, 2020 sending Expedition 63 crewmembers Chris Cassidy of NASA and Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos into orbit for a six-hour flight to the International Space Station and the start of a six-and-a-half month mission. Photo Credit: (NASA/GCTC/Andrey Shelepin)

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – With greatly reduced fanfare and no family members present in response to the continuing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic a new Russian-American trio of spacefarers successfully launched to orbit aboard an upgraded Soyuz rocket this morning Thursday, April 9 and docked at the International Space Station (ISS) just six hours later.

The new spaceflyer trio comprising NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner successfully launched on the upgraded Soyuz 2.1a rocket for the first time at 4:05 a.m. EDT aboard their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft from Site 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as the Expedition 63 crew.

They soared to orbit on a magnificent liftoff of fire and fury beginning a fast tracked four-orbit, six-hour flight to reach the International Space Station and briefly join the three member Expedition 62 crew already aboard.

The new Soyuz 2.1a version had launched unmanned Progress cargo ships several times to validate its usage but this was the first time with a human crew on top.

At the time of launch, the station was flying about 259 miles over northeast Kazakhstan, south of the Kazakh capital of Nur-Sultan and 587 statute miles ahead of the Soyuz as it left the launch pad.

Watch the launch video:

“3-2-1… LIFTOFF! Shooting into the sky at 4:05am ET, the Soyuz rocket carrying Chris Cassidy of @NASA_Astronauts and @Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner left Earth for a six-hour journey to the @Space_Station,” NASA tweeted

The safely reached orbit 8 minutes later and arrived in the vicinity of the ISS as planned to begin a six and a half month long mission.

The Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft carrying Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner docked to the International Space Station at 10:13 a.m. EDT at the Poisk mopdule, also known as MRM 2, while both spacecraft were flying about 260 miles above the North Atlantic Ocean.

Everything was carried live on NASA TV and Roscosmos webcast.

The Soyuz MS-16 crew ship carrying the Exp 63 crew approaches its docking port on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV

“Their voyage to the International Space Statio is complete. They have arrived,” said the NASA commentator.

The crew then completed the hard dock by closing the hooks and latches between the Soyuz and ISS.

After conducting standard pressurization and leak checks and verifying all systems the new trio opened the hatches and floated from the Soyuz into the station where they were greeted and heartily welcomed aboard at 12:28 p.m. EDT.

The new Expedition 63 trio join another trio already on board comprising the Expedition 62 crew of NASA Flight Engineers Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir and Expedition 62 Commander Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos.

The new Expedition 63 crew joined the Expedition 62 crew today a board the International Space Station. (Front row from left) NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. (Back row from left) NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronaut Jessica Meir. Credit: NASA TV

The arrival temporarily restores the station’s crew complement to six for the remainder of Expedition 62 for about a week.

The Expedition 62 crew of Skripochka, Morgan, and Meir is scheduled to depart the ISS on their Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft and return to Earth on April 17

This mission marks the third spaceflight for Cassidy and Ivanishin and the first for Vagner.

“The crew members of Expedition 63 are scheduled to be aboard the station to welcome the first commercial crew spacecraft, carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who will arrive on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 flight test, currently targeted to launch in mid-to-late May,” says NASA.

Expedition 63 crewmembers (from left) Chris Cassidy, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner pose for pictures the day before launch

Watch Ken’s continuing reports onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent ULA and SpaceX launches including Boeing Starliner, Crew and Cargo Dragon, Solar Orbiter, In-Flight Abort and Starlink at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

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.
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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

 

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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