A few hours ago the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and after a little more than three hours reached the International Space Station with three astronauts on board. For the first time, the ultra-fast route was used which halves the journey duration. In the period preceding a launch, it’s normal for astronauts and cosmonauts to remain in quarantine. In this case it was also extended to the personnel who managed the launch, with limits to the people who could have been in Baikonur.
The three new members of the crew of the International Space Station, who complete the crew of Expedition 63 are:
Sergey Nikolayevich Ryzhikov. Born on August 19, 1974 in Bugulma, in the then USSR and today in the Russian Federation Republic of Tatarstan, is a graduate of Kacha Air Force School in 1996. After serving as a pilot and later as head of a fighter regiment, in 2006 he was selected as a cosmonaut candidate. He was already on the International Space Station as part of Expedition 49/50 that ended with his return to Earth on April 10, 2017.
Kathleen Hallisey “Kate” Rubins. Born on October 14, 1978 in Farmington, Connecticut, USS, she earned a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology at the University of California at San Diego and a Ph.D. in cancer biology at Stanford University. After conducting various researches in the field of biology connected to various diseases, in 2009 she was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA. She was already on the International Space Station as part of Expedition 48/49 that ended with her return to Earth on October 30, 2016.
Sergey Vladimirvich Kud-Sverchkov. Born in Baikonur, then USSR and now Kazakhstan, he earned a degree in rocket engineering from Moscow State Technical University (MGTU). After working for RSC Energia for a few years as an engineer, he was selected as a cosmonaut candidate in 2008. In 2012 he became a test cosmonaut for Roscosmos. He’s on its first space mission.
The turnover of the crew of the International Space Station continues to be a bit out of the ordinary because there’s some delay in the launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, this time following a problem detected with the engines of another Falcon 9 rocket that convinced Elon Musk’s staff to carry out further check-ups. The crew members who were already on board the Station are scheduled to return to Earth on October 21, while the ones who have just arrived are scheduled to return on April 17, 2021.
The first launch of a Soyuz spacecraft on an ultra-fast route is in NASA’s plans the last to carry American astronauts. The cost of the “ticket” had now exceeded $90 millions per astronaut and, apart from possible problems with the rockets, at least the Crew Dragon spacecraft should at last begin normal transport service.