Joint Russian-US crew blasts off to International Space Station

Katie Ramirez
January 16, 2021

"Moreover, a new record was set in spaceflights to the ISS - the Soyuz MS-17 total flight time from liftoff to docking amounted three hours and three minutes", Roscosmos said in a news release.

Vagner added that they were preparing to welcome the Soyuz MS-17 "in just 2.5 hours".

Ahead of the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the crew, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Russian Federation and Kate Rubins of the United States, spent more than a month in precautionary quarantine and were tested for the coronavirus several times.

Astronaut Kate Rubins was assigned a six-month mission as a flight engineer on ISS and a member of the Expedition 63/64 crew. The Crew-1 is now scheduled to launch some time in November according to NASA's blog.

NASA officials had stated for months leading up to that May announcement that it was in talks with Russian Federation not just for that seat, but potentially a second seat for a mission launching in the spring of 2021.

The agency now expects commercial crew missions to handle its needs to transport astronauts to and from the station.

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NASA and Roscosmos have committed to continue the flight-sharing partnership and are in talks to fly Russian astronauts on USA vehicles and to fly US astronauts on Russian rockets when needed, a spokesperson for Roscosmos told Reuters.

Before May 30, when USA astronauts Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley arrived at the ISS, Russia and Baikonur had enjoyed a lucrative monopoly on manned missions to the ISS.

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner, whose development has been delayed by issues during an uncrewed test flight last December, will fly a crewed test flight with three NASA astronauts on board no earlier than next June, after a second uncrewed test flight in December or January. The mission of the Soyuz space craft conveying two Russian cosmonauts and one NASA space explorer was critical to Russia's space office Roscosmos, coming as the SpaceX program relaunches crewed spaceflight from the United States and touches off new discuss a space race between the two nations.

Roscosmos, though, has not yet agreed to mixed crews.

Upon arrival, Rubin and her Soyuz seatmates will be greeted by a three person crew that is due to leave the space station later this month. "During all communications with crew members, we were wearing masks". The proposed new station "is too US-driven" Rogozin said. "Right now it's about which mission do we implement that, but as far as I'm concerned, the sooner the better".

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