A former U.S. Navy SEAL, a Russian fighter pilot and a Russian engineer have taken social distancing to its excessive, launching off Earth for a six-month keep aboard the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian federal area company Roscosmos lifted off on Russia’s Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft on Thursday (April 9). Driving atop the primary Soyuz 2.1a rocket to fly with a crew from Web site 31 on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the three crewmates launched at four:05 a.m. EDT (0805 GMT or 1:05 p.m. native Kazakh time) on a six-hour journey to achieve the area station.
The launch was considered by a fewer variety of spectators than regular in an effort to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes the illness COVID-19, each on Earth and into area. The crew, which adopted the same old quarantine interval previous to the flight, forewent the standard follow of inviting their members of the family and different friends to Baikonur to observe the launch.
“We’re implementing the very same precautions as the remainder of the world is, with social distancing,” Cassidy mentioned in a NASA interview earlier than the launch. “The entire group has been very strict about no interactions beside the management crew.”
“We’ve taken additional measures to verify the crew arrives on the area station in good well being,” Ivanishin mentioned at a preflight press convention. “We did not have any friends, so we did not have any members of the family or associates arrive. We’ve been utterly remoted at this last stage.”
The crew’s households watched the liftoff from the cosmonaut coaching heart in Star Metropolis, exterior of Moscow, as a substitute.
Reaching area about 9 minutes after they left the bottom, the Soyuz crew started a four-orbit rendezvous with the area station. They’re anticipated to dock with the orbiting lab’s Zvezda service module at 10:16 a.m. EDT (1416 GMT).
For the following week, Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner will serve aboard the station with Expedition 62 crew members Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos and NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir. Skripochka will flip over command of the station to Cassidy on Wednesday (April 15), earlier than departing with Morgan and Meir on Soyuz MS-15 for a touchdown in Kazakhstan on Friday.
Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner will then function the three-person Expedition 63 crew till their very own scheduled departure in October.
“It will likely be an fascinating time period,” mentioned Cassidy. “We’ve a really brief handover with our earlier Soyuz crew, so that’s simply 9 days for us to get our ‘area legs’ as a crew after which off we go together with the plan. For me, my days shall be full whether or not I’m on my own or with different crewmates, so I do not consider this as any totally different than a typical mission with a distinct complement.”
“The specialists on the bottom will decide the best way to use the time and set priorities and we’ll simply get it executed,” he mentioned.
They usually is probably not alone.
SpaceX is making ready to launch the first crewed test flight of its Dragon spacecraft, presumably as quickly as mid- to late-Might. NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will fly as the Demo-2 crew to the area station for what is predicted to be a two- to three-month stick with the Expedition 63 crew.
Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner are additionally scheduled to supervise the arrival of a number of uncrewed resupply spacecraft, together with Japan’s ninth H-II Switch Automobile (HTV), a Russian Progress, a Northrop Grumman Cygnus and the primary cargo-configured, second-generation SpaceX Dragon capsule.
Cassidy, 50, is on his third spaceflight. He beforehand helped construct the station as an area shuttle mission specialist in 2009, earlier than his first keep as a member of the Expedition 35/36 crew in 2013. His command of Expedition 63 bookends the beginning of a steady human residency aboard the area station nearly 20 years in the past.
“Invoice Shepherd was the commander of Expedition 1, a Navy SEAL, and 20 years later, I shall be commander of the area station, additionally a Navy SEAL,” Cassidy mentioned.
Ivanishin and Vagner had been initially assigned to the Soyuz MS-16 backup crew, till an damage briefly grounded cosmonaut Nikolai Tikhonov and Roscosmos determined to exchange each him and his crewmate, Andrei Babkin, in February.
Ivanishin, 51, can also be on his third spaceflight, having served on Expeditions 29/30 in 2012 and 48/49 in 2016. That is the primary mission for Vagner, 34, after changing into a cosmonaut in 2010.
“I’ve dreamed of doing this for a lot of, a few years,” Vagner mentioned. “It’s exhausting to go away those that are staying behind on this difficult time, however I wish to thank everybody for serving to us take off.”
Soyuz MS-16 is Russia’s 62nd Soyuz spacecraft to launch for the Worldwide Area Station since 2000 and 145th to fly for the reason that first Soyuz mission in 1967.
Click through to collectSPACE to see the Soyuz MS-16 crew mission patch.