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Astronauts Aboard The Soyuz Rocket Land Safely on The ISS

The Soyuz spacecraft is currently the only vehicle that can ferry crews to the space station.

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Astronauts, Soyuz
Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques waves upon uniting with the rest of the crew members on the International Space Station after its capsule hatch opened upon docking in this still image captured from NASA video in space. VOA

Three astronauts who were launched into space aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft Monday entered the International Space Station nearly eight hours later, a relief to relatives and scientists months after a rocket failure aborted another mission.

The hatch of the capsule carrying NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of Russian space agency Roscosmos was opened while the station was flying over the southern coast of Yemen.

The three were greeted upon arrival Monday by the station’s current crew members, who had waited outside the hatch after the astronauts’ capsule docked and underwent safety checks.

 

Soyuz Rocket, Astronauts
The Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft carrying the crew formed of David Saint-Jacques of Canada, Oleg Kononenko of Russia and Anne McClain of the U.S. blasts off to the International Space Station, Kazakhstan. VOA

 

Their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft launched from the Russian-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Monday at 5:31 p.m. (1131 GMT; 6:31 a.m. EST) then entered a designated orbit just under nine minutes later. The spacecraft made four orbits over six hours as it chased down the space station for the docking.

The astronauts were the first sent to be sent to the space station since a crewed Soyuz launch was aborted in October after a booster rocket failed to separate properly, crippling the rocket. The families of the crew, other astronauts and space officials from several nations breathed a sigh of relief after observing the flawless launch.

NASA and Roscosmos said all onboard systems operated normally and the astronauts felt fine during the six-hour trip to the space station. After two hours of waiting in their capsule to confirm their ship was firmly docked to the station, they exited the capsule to join three astronauts already aboard the orbiting outpost at 1:37 a.m. (1940 GMT; 2:40 p.m. EST.)

Russian Rocket, Soyuz, Astronauts
From left: CSA astronaut David Saint Jacques, Russian cosmonaut Оleg Kononenko‎ and U.S. astronaut Anne McClain pose in a mock-up of a Soyuz space craft at Russian Space Training Center in Star City, Russia. VOA

The station’s current crew of NASA’s Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russian Sergei Prokopyev and German Alexander Gerst were waiting to greet the newcomers. They are scheduled to return to Earth on Dec. 20.

McClain, Saint-Jacques and Kononenko will spend more than six months at the space station doing research and experiments in biology, Earth science, physical sciences and technology.

A Soyuz-FG rocket carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin failed two minutes into its flight on Oct. 11, activating an automatic rescue system that sent their capsule into a steep ride back to Earth. They managed to emerge safely despite the harrowing ordeal.

A Russian investigation attributed the failure to a sensor that was damaged during the rocket’s final assembly.

NASA, rocket, Astronauts
Specialists watch broadcasts from the Soyuz spacecraft showing astronaut David Saint-Jacques of Canada, Oleg Kononenko of Russia and astronaut Anne McClain of the U.S. attending the final qualification training for their upcoming space mission in Star City near Moscow, Russia. VOA

NASA announced Monday that Hague and Ovchinin will now launch to the space station on Feb. 28, along with NASA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch.

The Soyuz accident in October was the first aborted crew launch for the Russian space program since 1983, when two Soviet cosmonauts safely jettisoned after a launch pad explosion.

Russian space officials took measures to prevent the repeat of such a rocket failure. Since the October mishap, four successful unmanned Soyuz satellite launches have been conducted to clear the path for the crew’s launch on Monday.

Also Read: The Soyuz-FG Rocket Failure Due To Technical Malfunction: Russian Space Agency

After Monday’s successful launch, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted his thanks to his Russian counterpart Dmitry Rogozin and to NASA and Roscosmos space teams “for their dedication to making this launch a success.”

The Soyuz spacecraft is currently the only vehicle that can ferry crews to the space station, but Russia stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of SpaceX’s Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner crew capsules. (VOA)

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Spacecraft Test Runs into Serious Problems, Smoke All Over SpaceX in Florida

"Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test"

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spaceX
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

Thick plumes of smoke rose over a SpaceX facility in Florida during a test fire of a Crew Dragon spacecraft and the issue was serious, it could derail plans to fly astronauts aboard the capsule later this year, the media reported.

SpaceX, which was founded by billionaire businessman Elon Musk in 2002, said the craft was undergoing a “series of engine tests” at a facility in Cape Canaveral on Saturday, and something went wrong during the final stretch, CNN reported.

SpaceX will work with NASA to determine what caused the issue. No injuries were reported.

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The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules. Pixabay

“Ensuring that our systems meet rigorous safety standards and detecting (issues) like this prior to flight are the main reasons why we test,” SpaceX said in a statement.

Crew Dragon is already overdue and more delays could make things tricky for NASA.

It was scheduled to conduct a key test of its emergency abort system in June. And its first crewed mission, which will carry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, was slated for July, though NASA recently said that timeline was under review.

space craft
Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. Pixabay

The US has not had the technology to fly humans to orbit since the space shuttle programme ended in 2011. Meanwhile, NASA has paid Russia about $80 million per seat to send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz capsules.

NASA has also decided to ask the private sector to design and build a new generation of spacecrafts.

Also Read: Avoid Smoking During Pregnancy To Prevent Premature Births

SpaceX and Boeing, which is building a vehicle called Starliner, were awarded contracts worth up to $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, in 2014. Both capsules were supposed to start flying in 2017, but they have been hampered with delays.

Federal oversight authorities warned NASA last year that more delays could leave US astronauts stranded if the new capsules were not ready to fly in 2019. (IANS)