Three-man crew reaches In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

A three-man space crew from Italy, Rus­sia and the United States on Fri­day ar­rived at the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion for a five-month mis­sion Fri­day. Footage broad­cast by Rus­sia’s space agency Roscos­mos showed the Soyuz craft car­ry­ing NASA as­tro­naut Randy Bres­nik, Rus­sian cos­mo­naut Sergey Ryazan­sky and Paolo Ne­spoli of the Euro­pean Space Agency take off into the dusky sky from Kazhak­stan’s Baikonur cos­mod­rome.

Six hours later, af­ter or­bit­ing Earth four times, the Soyuz docked with the space sta­tion. The hatches be­tween them were to open later, af­ter pres­sur­iza­tion and leak checks are car­ried out, ac­cord­ing to the US space agency NASA. The ar­rival of the three as­tro­nauts boosted the ISS back up to its full ca­pac­ity of six for the first time since April, af­ter Rus­sia de­cided to cut the num­ber of its cos­mo­nauts to two.

NASA has re­sponded to Rus­sia’s re­duc­tion by boost­ing the num­ber of as­tro­nauts that will op­er­ate in its half of the ISS. In to­tal, four as­tro­nauts-Peggy Whit­son, Jack Fis­cher, Bres­nik and Ne­spoli-will now con­duct ex­per­i­ments in the NASA-run seg­ment, with Ryazan­sky join­ing Fy­o­dor Yurchikhin to man the Rus­sian sec­tion.

Ton of sci­ence

Bres­nik said at a pre-launch press con­fer­ence on Thurs­day that the ex­tra mem­ber would help the crew con­duct ex­per­i­ments and carry out re­pairs. “There is a ton of sci­ence to do,” he said ahead of the flight. Bres­nik-who is on his sec­ond flight-also praised the work of Whit­son, Fis­cher and Yurchikhin, al­ready aboard the or­bital lab. “They’ve re­ally got their groove on. They are work­ing very, very well. They have good tech­nique and tempo,” he said.

Ryazan­sky, 42, who is em­bark­ing on his third stint aboard the ISS said at the press con­fer­ence that he would be tak­ing a small gnome into space in trib­ute to a song beloved by his fam­ily. Live footage broad­cast on Roscos­mos’s web­site showed the toy gnome hang­ing in­side the cap­sule as the trio pre­pared for take­off. At 60 years old and with 174 days logged in space, Ne­spoli is the most ex­pe­ri­enced of the three fliers, but the Ital­ian made it clear his love for space travel hasn’t faded over time with a tweet show­ing him pulling his space suit on Fri­day.

“Beam me up S...oyuz! Hitch­ing an­other ride soon to the @Space_S­ta­tion,” he wrote. Ne­spoli be­came the old­est as­tro­naut on­board, edg­ing Fy­o­dor Yurchikhin, 59 and Whit­son, 57. But Whit­son is the old­est fe­male as­tro­naut in the his­tory of space ex­plo­ration and has bro­ken other records dur­ing her lat­est mis­sion at the ISS. In April, Whit­son be­came the NASA as­tro­naut with the most cu­mu­la­tive time spent in space, hav­ing al­ready bro­ken the record for space­walks by a woman the month be­fore. Whit­son was ex­pected to re­turn home in June with Rus­sian Oleg Novit­sky and

French­man Thomas Pes­quet, but had her mis­sion ex­tended into Septem­ber by NASA in a de­ci­sion con­nected to the Roscos­mos crew re­duc­tion. Roscos­mos has said its two-man crew for­mat will help it save costs while the ISS waits on the ar­rival of a long-de­layed Mul­tipur­pose Lab­o­ra­tory Mo­d­ule that will gen­er­ate enough work on board to jus­tify a third cos­mo­naut on board.

The $100 bil­lion ISS space lab­o­ra­tory has been or­bit­ing Earth at about 28,000 kilo­me­ters per hour since 1998. Space is one of the few ar­eas of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Rus­sia and the US that has not been wrecked by ten­sions over Ukraine and Syria.—AFP

KAZA­KHSTAN: Rus­sia’s Soyuz MS-05 rocket car­ry­ing a three-man crew from Italy, Rus­sia and the United States, blasts off from the Baikonur cos­mod­rome for a five-month mis­sion on the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion (ISS).—AFP

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