Russian crew blast off for space station after strict quarantine
09 Avril, 2020, 13:12 | Auteur: Therese Cote
USA astronaut Christopher Cassidy said on Wednesday that he was absolutely confident his crew did not have the coronavirus ahead of their launch to the International Space Station.
The space station, which orbits about 400 kilometers above Earth, is tasked with conducting scientific experiments.
"But we understand that the whole world is also impacted by the same crisis", he said. Such "mixed crew" missions would ensure there is at least one American and one Russian crew member on the station even if either the Soyuz or commercial crew vehicles are unavailable.
A Soyuz-2.1a rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:05 a.m. They are expected to dock with the orbiting lab's Zvezda service module at 10:16 a.m. EDT (1416 GMT). In February, Roscosmos announced it was replacing the two Russian cosmonauts who had been assigned to the mission, Nikolai Tikhonov and Andrei Babkin, with their backups, Ivanishin and Vagner.
The new additions to the ISS crew are to join US astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, who are scheduled to return to Earth on April 17.
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They will join the station's three-person crew for more than seven days of joint operations, after which Cassidy will relieve current ISS commander Oleg Skripochka.
SpaceX and NASA are in the process of final preparations prior to launching their first crewed spaceflight mission - Demo-2, which is technically still a demonstration mission needed to validate SpaceX's Crew Dragon for transporting humans during regular flight.
Ivanishin and Vagner were originally assigned to the Soyuz MS-16 backup crew, until an injury temporarily grounded cosmonaut Nikolai Tikhonov and Roscosmos chose to replace both him and his crewmate, Andrei Babkin, in February.
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