The Soyuz spacecraft has launched a new crew to the International Space Station

The Soyuz spacecraft has launched a new crew to the International Space Station

A Soyuz spacecraft bearing two Russian cosmonauts as well as one American astronaut launched from Kazakhstan on April 9 and landed at the International Space Station several hours later. At 3:42 a.m. Eastern time, a Soyuz-2.1a rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome; the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft was launched into orbit. At 7:05 a.m. Eastern, the spaceship docked with the station’s Rassvet node after a 2-orbit approach to the station.  

NASA space- explorers Mark Vande Hei, as well as Roscosmos cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitsky, were among those aboard the Soyuz. As a portion of the Expedition 65 team, they will stay on the station until at least October. On the Soyuz MS-18 spaceship, Novitsky, the captain, will return to the Earth in October. If Roscosmos agrees to travel spaceflight members on the Soyuz MS-19 spaceship in October, both Dubrov, as well as Vande Hei could stay on the station for close to a year. Those spaceflight members — most definitely a director as well as an actress for a movie shot on the station — will deploy on Soyuz MS-19 as well as return on MS-18 with Novitsky after around a week on this station.

In a media interview on March 15, Vande Hei admitted that he doesn’t know how long he’ll be at the station. “To be honest, it’s really an inspiration for a different life experience for me.” He referred to his six-month stint on the station in 2017–2018 when he stated, “I’ve never been in space more than six months.” “I’m very excited about it.” Vande Hei was officially attached to Soyuz MS-18 just a month before the mission after Roscosmos, and private spaceflight firm Axiom Space reached an arrangement to purchase the seat. Roscosmos sold the seat to Axiom, who then gave it to NASA in return for a place on a possible commercial crew mission, most likely in 2023.

NASA, which had previously bought seats directly from the Roscosmos, uses this unconventional solution as a stopgap. At the same time, it works on a deal with Roscosmos to enable the two agencies to exchange seats directly. NASA astronauts will proceed to travel on Soyuz spacecraft. At the same time, Russian cosmonauts will fly on private crew vessels under that scheme, with no financial trade between the two organizations if either the Soyuz or even commercial crew spacecraft was grounded for a prolonged duration, specific “mixed teams” guarantee that all NASA and Roscosmos staff are present on the platform.

The deal hasn’t been done yet. However, NASA has yet to occupy the fourth seat on the Crew-3 commercial crew flight, which is set to launch no earlier than October 23 on a Crew Dragon spacecraft. Raja Chari as well as Tom Marshburn of NASA, as well as Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency have already been appointed to the project.