Space Stations

Astronaut Scott Kelly with cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko in front of a model of the Soyuz rocked used for the launch (Photo NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A few hours ago the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and after almost exactly six hours reached the International Space Station carrying astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko. The Soyuz traveled on the fast path normally used.
Generally, the members of the International Space Station crew spend about six months in space, this time there there’s a change because a very special mission lasting one year is starting. Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko will spend a year on the Station to make a series of more in-depth studies on human beings reactions to life in the microgravity of space.

Cosmonauts Elena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev and astronaut Barry Wilmore assisted after their landing (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago, NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova returned to Earth on the Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft, which landed without problems in Kazakhstan. The three of them spent almost six months on the International Space Station, where they arrived on September 25, 2014. Initially, they were part of Expedition 41, in the second half of their stay they were part of Expedition 42 with Barry Wilmore as Station commander.

Nauka training mockup at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in 2012 (Photo NASA/Carla Cioffi)

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, announced the plan to keep on supporting the collaboration with the International Space Station until 2024. Subsequently, Russia’s plan is to build its own space station that will serve for the national space activities. It could also be used as a basis for future Russian expeditions to the Moon to begin around 2030.