Astronaut Crew Scheduled to Handle SpaceX Spacecraft Operations Reaches ISS

Soyuz December 3 launch 1 photo
Nearly two months after the botched Soyuz MS-10 rocket launch, the American and Russian space agencies successfully delivered a brand new crew of astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday.
The mission, Soyuz MS-11, took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on December 3, with three astronauts on board: Anne McClain (NASA), David Saint-Jacques (Canadian Space Agency), and Oleg Konenenko (Roscosmos).

Following a four-orbit, six-hour journey, the three arrived at the station to finally replace the crew that was left stranded there since October. The three,  Alexander Gerst (ESA),  Sergey Prokopyev (Roscosmos) and Serena Auñón-Chancellor (NASA) will remain on the ISS until December 20, when they will depart for Earth.

The new crew to the station will be tasked with a number of experiments for various organizations on Earth, including biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

But most importantly, this is the crew that will handle the first flight tests for NASA’s Commercial Crew program. That means they will be coordinating the launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on January 7 and that of the Boeing Starliner in March.

That same month they will be joined by another three spacefarers, a crew which will comprise the two men that aborted the launch in October,  Nick Hague (NASA) and Alexey Ovchinin (Roscosmos)  and a newcomer, Christina Koch (NASA).

This expanded crew has all the chances of being witness, from space to the crewed test of the SpaceX Crew Dragon, which is scheduled to take off in June 2019.

According to Russian chief investigator Igor Skorobogatov, the cause of the failed launch in October was a “deformation of the stem of the contact separation sensor," which in turn led to the first stage of the rocket hitting the second one. This caused the mission to be aborted and all Soyuz missions grounded until this week.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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