World news – Three-man Soyuz flight in honor of Gagarin takes off for the ISS

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April 9, 2021

A crew of three flew in a capsule to the International Space Station on Friday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who became the first person in space.

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The Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov as well as the NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei took off at the expected time 0742 GMT from the Russian cosmodrome Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

All over the Russia-operated Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, memories of Gagarin’s successes were remembered as Novitsky, Dubrov and Vande Hei prepared for their six-month mission aboard the orbital laboratory.

The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft, in which the trio took off was named after the legendary cosmonaut, and Gagarin’s portrait was affixed to the outside.

Gagarin also appeared more than once at the traditional pre-flight press conference on Thursday asking the crew how she wanted to celebrate the anniversary in space on Monday.

« We will celebrate it together, » said the 43-year-old Dubrov, who is flying into space for the first time. « And we will work hard! »

The anniversary of Gagarin’s historic flight on April 12, 1961 is celebrated every year in Russia as Cosmonautics Day.

The launch on Friday was from a different launchpad than the one used for Gagarin’s only mission where he spent 108 minutes in orbit.

The Gagarin launchpad, last used in 2019, is currently being upgraded to include a to prepare for the new generation of Soyuz missiles and is expected to be operational again in 2023.

Gagarin’s mission was a propaganda coup for the Soviet Union and a major victory in the space race with the West that turned into one of the most exciting subplots of the Cold War However, the anniversary is a difficult time for the Russian space industry, which has suffered a number of setbacks lately, from corruption scandals in the industry to an abandoned launch failing a manned mission in 2018. </ p Perhaps most importantly, Roscosmos and Baikonur lost their monopoly on manned ISS launches last year as reusable rockets from Elon Musk's Space X. NASA astronauts brought to the station from American soil.

The advent of commercial competitors has created financial problems for Roscosmos – NASA paid the company tens of millions of dollars per seat for astronauts sent to the ISS.

Russian space officials are still talking about new ventures, including this Bringing samples back from Venus and creating a rocket that can make 100 round trips into space.

However, the space budget has been falling year on year as President Vladimir Putin prioritized higher military spending.

Space proved to be a rare area of ​​cooperation between Russia and the West in the face of mounting geopolitical tensions.

The ISS project, which began in 2000, is expected to end before the end of this decade.

Despite NASA’s speech and Roscosmos, which move in different directions as the space station unwinds, the crews have the importance of good relations for the emphasizes further progress.

« When we first started we were competing and that was one of the reasons we were so successful in the beginning of human spaceflight, » said Vande Hei, who poked fun at the haircut he got during quarantine his second gave mission on board the ISS.

« Over time we realized that we could work together a little more … I hope it will stay that way in the future. »

© 2021 AFP

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