Russia’s spacecraft will launch an American astronaut and two cosmonauts to the International Space Station early Friday (April 9th) – and you can watch it live online.
The Soyuz capsule, which contained NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, is scheduled to launch the top of a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:42 a.m. Friday (0742 GMT or 12:42 local time). time. , three – hour drive to International Space Station.
You can follow the action live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly through the space agency. Launch coverage will begin at 2:45 a.m. EDT (0745 GMT).
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If all goes according to plan, the three spacecraft will dock at the space station around 7:07 EDT (1107 GMT). Reporting on the event will begin at 6:15 a.m. EDT (1015 GMT). NASA will also broadcast through the website the opening of the hatch and the remarks of the crew or flight controller, which are expected around 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 GMT).
This mission will be the second space flight for Vande Hei, the third for the commander of the Novitsky Union and the first for Dubrovnik.
NASA announced the participation of Wanda Hei in this mission last month. Usually crew members for long-term space station missions are informed for years, but NASA accelerated Vande Hei after the agency’s plans to switch to commercial crews were complicated by ongoing technical problems with Boeing Taxi astronaut Starliner, which could delay the first flight of that manned vehicle until 2022.
(Like Boeing, SpaceX has a contract with NASA’s commercial crew program. The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule is in operation and has already transported the two crews to an orbiting lab.)
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Vande Hei had some flight notice before the public announcement, he said Space.com in an exclusive interview. “I, preparing for this flight, was something we did as an unforeseen event, just in case we could get a seat,” he said.
NASA usually buys seats in the Alliance. But in this case, NASA and Roscosmos, Russia’s federal space agency, instead agreed to exchange places – Vande Hei on Soyuz for future astronaut Roscosmos on a future commercial crew flight. The tasks of the flight are still being determined, because NASA is working on interruptions with the commercial crew schedule, so Vande Hei could spend a year instead of the usual six months in space. But that has not yet been completely decided.
“Things are changing and … we need to coordinate with the Russians, especially with Roscosmos, to figure out when to get back,” Vande Hei told Space.com.
His previous flight into space lasted six months. So Vande Hei said that he would look forward to a new “life experience” if he was given the task of remaining elevated for a year.
The three-member Soyuz MS-18 crew will join the seven Expedition 64 pilots currently in orbit in the lab, making for one of the largest crews in recent times. Seven people already there arrived on two spaceships last year. The Alliance brought NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov to the station in October. SpaceX Crew Dragon then sent NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, as well as Japan’s Soichi Noguchi, to the orbiting complex in November.
The launch on Friday will take place three days before the 60th anniversary of the first human space flight, from the same place that hosted that historic flight. April 12, 1961. Soviet Union Yuri Gagarin launched into Earth orbit from Baikonur. The Russian space agency Roscosmos named the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft Gagarin after the famous cosmonaut.
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