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A three-person crew embarked for the International Space Station on Friday (April 9), launching just three days shy of the 60th anniversary of the first human spaceflight.
Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei lifted off aboard Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft for a three-hour, two-orbit rendezvous with the space station. The Soyuz took flight at 3:42 a.m. EDT (0742 GMT or 12:42 p.m. local time) from Site 31/6 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, near where cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin made history by becoming the first person to fly into space on April 12, 1961.
To honor the anniversary, the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft was christened the “Yu.A. Gagarin” and bore the name on its exterior insulation.
“It is a big honor for us to fly and celebrate the anniversary of the first flight into space,” said Novitskiy on Thursday (April 8), addressing the Russian state commission that approved the crew’s launch.
“For me,” added Dubrov, “it is a special honor to have my first flight on such an important date when we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the first flight into space.”
That the crew included an American underscored one of the key advancements made since Gagarin’s one-orbit Vostok mission, said Vande Hei.
Thousands of scientists have launched experiments to space. International Space Station is a great platform for running experiments in space such as microgravity experiments. Take a look back at 20 years of their research in this:
MOSCOW, March 26. /TASS/. Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos considers it inexpedient to postpone the return of the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) to Earth over the coronavirus and the quarantine imposed by Kazakhstan, the Roscosmos press office told TASS on Thursday.
“Roscosmos does not consider it expedient to postpone the return of the crew of the long-term ISS expedition 62 to Earth,” Roscosmos said.
“Indeed, some restrictions imposed by Kazakhstan due to quarantine measures are currently in place. But Roscosmos is interacting with partners and considering options of solving the problem,” the press office said.
Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir are due to return to Earth on April 17. The next expedition is scheduled to set off on April 9. Its basic crew comprises Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy. The back-up crew includes Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Andrei Babkin and NASA astronaut Stephen Bowen.
Kazakhstan’s president signed a decree on March 15 on declaring a state of emergency in the republic until April 15 over the coronavirus. The authorities of Kazakhstan also imposed quarantine in Nur-Sultan and Alma-Ata from March 19.