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Space station launch: Russian cosmonauts, NASA astronaut depart Earth this Friday

Russian space agency Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei launch to the space station from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday.

The launch, docking and arrival of the new crew to the space station will be broadcast live on NASA’s TV channel and website. The launch is expected at 3:42 ET.

The crew docks at the station at 07:07 ET, and the hatches between the Soyuz spacecraft and the station open around noon. 9 ET.

This quick trip to the space station, which includes two orbits on Earth and approximately three hours of travel time, is the courtesy of the new Soyuz MS-1

8 spacecraft.

Their arrival will bring the total number of crew members at the station to 10 residents.

Astronauts on the space station have prepared for the new crew member by setting up extra sleep stations and freeing up ports.

Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, along with NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, recently moved the Soyuz MS-17 capsule from the harbor to accommodate the latest crew launched from Baikonur.

Ryzhikov, Kud-Sverchkov and Rubins arrived at the space station in the Soyuz capsule following the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in October.

The Soyuz spacecraft can be seen in flight in the middle of this image.

The crew members moved their spacecraft from the Rassvet module, which has a ground-facing port, and moved it to the Poisk docking port, which faces into space, in March. This released the Rassvet module port for the new crew member and their Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft.

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Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov return to Earth in the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft on April 17.

Members of the historic NASA SpaceX Crew-1, including NASA astronauts Victor Glover Jr., Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi, who took off from the United States for the space station in November, will also return Crew-2 next month.

This second rotation using the NASA SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft includes NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, astronaut Akihiko Hoshide from the Japanese Aviation Agency, Japan, and astronaut Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency.

Crew-2, which may launch on April 22, will join Crew-1 on the space station before Crew-1 returns to Earth.

This is the second spaceflight for Vande Hei, the third spaceflight Novitskiy and the first for Dubrov.

Vande Hei was selected as an astronaut in 2009 and had his first space experience at the space station from September 2017 to February 2018. During his 168 days aboard the station, Vande Hei completed four space missions. This time, Vande Hei and the crew will work on several experiments, including studies on Alzheimer’s disease and portable ultrasound devices.

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Vande Hei’s flight on the Soyuz spacecraft is part of a contract with Axiom Space in Houston. In return, NASA will essentially save space on a future commercial spacecraft launch in 2023 for a non-NASA crew member for the space station.

While NASA is working with Boeing and SpaceX to ensure safe crew transportation to and from the space station using US-based launches, taking a seat on Soyuz means there will always be at least one US crew member on the space station.

Their launch takes place just three days before the 60th anniversary of the launch of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin as the first human in space, as well as the 40th anniversary of the first launch of NASA’s space shuttle.

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