Three astronauts included in the Expedition 64 have reached the International Space Station

The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft docking with the International Space Station (Image NASA TV)
The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft docking with the International Space Station (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and after a little more than three hours reached the International Space Station with three new crew members on board. For the second time, the ultra-fast route was used which halves the journey duration.

The three new members of the crew of the International Space Station, who are included in the Expedition 64 crew are:

Oleg Viktorovich Novitskiy. Born on October 12, 1971, at Cervien, in the then USSR and today in Belarus, he graduated from Kachinskoye Military Pilot School in 1994. After serving as a Russian Air Force pilot, in 2006 he was selected as a cosmonaut candidate. He’s already been on the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 33/34 between October 2012 and March 2013 and as a member of the Expedition 50/51 between November 2016 and June 2017.

Mark Thomas Vande Hey. Born on November 10, 1966, in Falls Church, Virginia, USA, he received a Bachelor of Arts in Physics from Saint John’s University in 1989 and a Master of Science in Applied Physics at Stanford University in 1999. Commissioned in the Army, he worked as a physics professor at the West Point military academy and subsequently served in various positions, including in Iraq. He began working at NASA’s Johnson Space Center as part of the local military contingent. In 2009 he was selected as an astronaut candidate and in 2014 was part of the crew of the NEEMO 18 submarine mission. He’s already been on the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 53/54 between September 2017 and February 2018.

Pyotr Valerievich Dubrov. Born on January 30, 1978, in Khabarovsk, in the then USSR and today in Russia, he graduated at Khabarovsk State Technical University in Software for Computer Engineering and Automated Systems in 1999. After working for various Russian companies, he was selected as a cosmodrome candidate in 2012. He’s at his first space mission.

Mark Vande Hei, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov (Photo NASA)
Mark Vande Hei, Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov (Photo NASA)

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft entered service in November 2020, but the crew turnover on the International Space Station has yet to return to normal. The new crew members are included in Expedition 64, which will last just a few more days. Throughout April, there will be departures and arrivals thanks to SpaceX’s missions.

Another unusual event is the presence of astronaut Mark Thomas Vande Hei, who replaces cosmonaut Sergey Korsakov following an agreement with Axiom Space, a company that manages sending private astronauts to the International Space Station. The peculiarity is that in this case, the deal is with NASA, which continues to send astronauts to the Station using the Soyuz spacecraft even if the Crew Dragon is in service and the Boeing Starliner is in its test phase.

The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft blasting off atop a Soyuz rocket (Image NASA TV)
The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft blasting off atop a Soyuz rocket (Image NASA TV)

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