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Russian spacecraft launches after crew swap

6 months 1 week 4 days ago Friday, April 10 2020 Apr 10, 2020 April 10, 2020 3:27 PM April 10, 2020 in Weather
Source: WBRZ Weather, NASA, & Roscosmos

A successful launch of the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft occurred in the early morning hours of April 9th. On board were Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner and American astronaut Chris Cassidy. It docked with the International Space Station (ISS) about six hours later, bringing the total human population in space to six. The three current ISS residents Andrew Morgan, Jessica Meir, and cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, will be returning to Earth on April 17th.

Image Credit: CPK/Roscosmos

The Russian cosmonauts on the Soyuz were not the original crew, replacing Nikolai Tikhonov and Andrei Babkin back in February. Russian and American officials commented little on the swap, only stating that medical issues were the reason for their replacement. Russian media did report that Tikhonov suffered an injury during training.

Image Credit: CPK/Roscosmos

Image Credit: CPK/Roscosmos

Chris Cassidy is the last scheduled NASA astronaut to fly on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, as American commercial crews are set to begin making journeys in the coming months. Two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, will be flying to the ISS later this spring on the SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 test flight. This will be the first time that a crewed spaceflight will take off from U.S. soil since the retiring of the Space Shuttle in 2011.

Image Credit: CPK/Roscosmos

NASA has proposed swapping commercial seats on Crew Dragon or Boeing’s Starliner spacecrafts for seats on future Soyuz launches, but Russian officials are waiting to see if those commercial vehicles are flight proven. These mixed crew missions would ensure that there would be at least one American and one Russian crew member on the ISS in case either American or Russian spacecrafts are unavailable.

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