The International Space Station looks a bit crowded this week. A NASA astronaut, two Russian cosmonauts, arrives at the rotating science platform and brings the current number of occupants to 10. The three new residents – Mark Vande Hei from NASA and Oleg Novitskiy from Roscosmos and Pyotr Dubrov – yesterday on a Soyuz- Spacecraft MS-18 launched.
It started in the early hours of the morning US time on Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It took two orbits and about three hours for the spacecraft with the Russian Rassvet module to dock with the ISS.
The crush will only be temporary, however. The three newcomers will join the Expedition 64 crew, which is already on board the International Space Station. Expedition 65 officially begins on Friday, April 16. Then Kate Rubins from NASA, Sergey Kud-Sverchkov from Roscosmos and Sergey Ryzhikov, commander of the departing station, leave the space station. At that point, Shannon Walker will take command from NASA.
A changeover ceremony will take place on Thursday, April 15th at 3:45 p.m. (CET). If everything goes according to plan, the three new ISS residents will stay on board for six months and carry out various research and engineering tasks. Another four people will arrive aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon at the end of April.
This will be Crew-2 due to take off on Thursday April 22nd. Crew-1, which demonstrated the functionality of NASA’s commercial crew program, and specifically the Crew Dragon, will depart on April 28th. NASA and the astronauts previously the Crew Dragon, currently docked at the ISS, was relocated to another port on the space station to clear the area for a future mission.
The ISS typically has a compliment from six people on board, although it is designed to maintain a larger cohort during handover periods such as this and in an emergency. It is an important consideration to ensure that there is enough capacity to bring the space station’s crew back to Earth. For example, although the Crew Dragon maneuver was conducted autonomously earlier this month, Crew-1 was on board when it happened. This was in the event that for some reason it was not possible to return and re-dock with the ISS so as not to leave Crew-1 stranded.
The accommodations for the crew of the International Space Station are distributed among the various modules that make up the facility. Although NASA and the Russian crew come together in the Unity connection module to eat together, there are four berths in the Harmony module and two in the Zvezda module.
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