Moscow – A trio of astronauts arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday after performing a swift maneuver that allowed them to reach the orbital outpost in just three hours.
Kate Rubins of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian agency Roscosmos left at 10:45 (0545 GMT) from the space launch center rented by Moscow in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, for a six-month stay in the ISS.
The crew first attempted a two-orbit maneuver and docked at the station just over three hours after takeoff, half the time it had taken before.
The trio will join the station’s commander, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, and Russians Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who arrived at the orbital complex in April and are expected to return to Earth within a week.
Speaking at a press conference on the eve of take-off from Baikonur, Mr Rubins noted that the crew had spent weeks in quarantine at the Star City training center outside Moscow and then in Baikonur. to avoid any threat of coronavirus.
“We spent two weeks in Star City, then 17 days in Baikonur in a very strict quarantine,” explains Rubins. “During all communication with the crew members, we wore a mask. We had two PCR tests and three rapid antigen tests.
Ms Rubins said she was eager to conduct the science experiments planned for the mission.
“We are planning to try some very interesting things like bioprinting tissues and cells growing in space and of course continuing our work on DNA sequencing,” he added. .
Ryzhikov, who will be the captain of the station, said the crew will try to identify the exact location of a leak in the Russian section of the station which is slowly losing oxygen. The small leak poses no immediate risk to the astronauts.
“We are going to take additional equipment that will allow us to detect the site of the leak with more precision,” he told reporters. “We are also going to take more waterproof material that will allow us to repair the leak. “
Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov are scheduled to receive the first operational mission aboard a SpaceX dragon crew in November, with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Agency for aerospace exploration.
The Crew Dragon mission has been postponed from October 31 to November, but a date has yet to be set. This delay is intended to give SpaceX more time to test and review data from a failed Falcon 9 capsule launch earlier this month.