Soyuz Crew Launch to ISS Set for Tuesday Evening

In this one second exposure photograph, the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft is seen launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (NASA PR) — Expedition 53-54 Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:17 p.m. today aboard the Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft.

Launch coverage will begin at 4:15 p.m. on NASA TV. After their launch, the trio will travel on a fast-track, six-hour path to the space station, where they are expected to dock at 10:57 p.m. tonight, Sept. 12.

President Trump Welcomes Home Record-breaking NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson talks on the phone with President Donald Trump as she flew on a NASA plane to Johnson Space Center’s Ellington Field in Houston Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017. (Credits: NASA/D. Huot)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer received a special welcome as they were flying home to Houston Sunday evening. President Donald Trump spoke by phone with Whitson and Fischer on a NASA plane following Whitson’s record-breaking mission to the International Space Station.

Whitson, Fischer, and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, landed back on Earth Saturday in Kazakhstan. She and Fischer flew to NASA Johnson Space Center’s Ellington Field Sunday.

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ISS Crew Return Safely to Earth

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, and NASA astronaut Jack Fischer undergo routine initial medical checks after returning from their mission aboard the International Space Station at 9:21 p.m. EDT Saturday (7:21 a.m. Kazakhstan time, Sunday, Sept. 3), landing southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. (Credits: NASA TV)

DZHEZKAZGAN, Kazakhstan (NASA PR)  — NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who set multiple U.S. space records during her mission aboard the International Space Station, along with crewmates Jack Fischer of NASA and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, safely landed on Earth at 9:21 p.m. EDT Saturday (7:21 a.m. Kazakhstan time, Sunday, Sept. 3), southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

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NASA TV to Air Return of ISS Crew Members on Saturday

Expedition 52 Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson of NASA, Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA float through the Harmony module of the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Record-breaking NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and her Expedition 52 crewmates are scheduled to depart the International Space Station and return to Earth Saturday, Sept. 2. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide complete coverage of their departure and landing.

Whitson, fellow Expedition 52 Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will undock their Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft from the space station at 5:58 p.m. EDT and land in Kazakhstan at 9:22 p.m. (7:22 a.m. Sept. 3, Kazakhstan time).

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RSC Energia Begins Work on New Soyuz-5 Booster

MOSCOW (RSC Energia PR) — Work is performed in compliance with the Order of the Government of the Russian Federation where RSC Energia is identified as the prime contractor of space rocket complex (SRC).

The following enterprises of State Corporation ROSCOSMOS: RSC Progress, FSUE TsENKI, etc. are the work co-executors.

Flight tests of new Russian launch vehicle (LV) Soyuz-5 are planned to be conducted for 2022 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

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Russia & China to Increase Space Cooperation

Tass reports that Russia and China plan to sign a cooperative agreement in the fall outlining increased cooperation across a range of space areas. Russia and China are also working to deepen cooperation with the BRICS nations, which include Brazil, India and South Africa.

As Glavkosmos explained, cooperation with Chinese partners envisages the following areas: the exploration of the Moon and outer space, space vehicles and ground infrastructure, hardware components and materials, the Earth’s remote sensing data.

Glavkosmos is also working with Chinese commercial partners on the issue of holding experiments aboard the International Space Station and providing the data of the Earth’s remote sensing from Russian satellites, the company said….

Specifically, Glavkosmos is holding preparations in Brazil for a tender for the delivery of space images to that country.

It was reported earlier that China was interested in buying the world’s most powerful Russian-made RD rocket engines produced by Energomash while Russian Space Systems showed interest in Chinese electronic components.

Russia and China are also working on making their GLONASS and BeiDou navigation satellite systems mutually complement each other and on installing adjusting ground-based stations on the territory of each other.

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Man Dies in Fire at Soyuz Drop Zone

Soyuz launches Progress supply ship on June 14, 2017. (Credit: Roscosmos)

TASS reports some sad news: a truck driver died while trying to extinguish a Kazakh steppe fire at the drop zone for the stages of a Russian Soyuz-2.1a rocket that launched a Progress supply ship to the International Space Station on Wednesday.

“According to the available information, the Kamaz truck driver, an employee of JSC NPO Mashinostroyenia, has died while extinguishing the fire. JSC NPO Mashinostroyenia (not affiliated to Roscosmos) oversees maintenance of the drop zones. The fire engulfed the Kamaz vehicle after a particularly strong gust of wind,” TASS reports, citing a report from Roscosmos.

Russians Launch Progress Supply Freighter to Space Station

Soyuz launches Progress supply ship on June 14, 2017. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR SPACE CENTER, Kazakhstan, June 14, 2017 (Roscosmos PR) — The launch vehicle (LV) Soyuz-2.1a with cargo spacecraft Progress МS-06 successfully lifted off from Baikonur Space Center at 12:20 MT.

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ESA Completes Inquiry into ExoMars Schiaparelli Failure

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) imaged the ExoMars Schiaparelli module’s landing site on 25 October 2016, following the module’s arrival at Mars on 19 October. The zoomed insets provide close-up views of what are thought to be several different hardware components associated with the module’s descent to the martian surface. These are interpreted as the front heatshield, the parachute and the rear heatshield to which the parachute is still attached, and the impact site of the module itself. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The inquiry into the crash-landing of the ExoMars Schiaparelli module has concluded that conflicting information in the onboard computer caused the descent sequence to end prematurely.

The Schiaparelli entry, descent and landing demonstrator module separated from its mothership, the Trace Gas Orbiter, as planned on 16 October last year, and coasted towards Mars for three days.

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Not Many Cosmonaut Applications So Far

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko marked their 300th consecutive day aboard the International Space Station on Jan. 21, 2016. The pair will land March 1 after spending a total of 340 days in space. (Credits: NASA)

Russia’s open call for prospective cosmonauts has produced only 200 applications since the process began on March 14, Tass reports.

Russia’s state corporation Roscosmos and the cosmonauts training center declared a contest for admission to the team of space explorers on March 14. Each applicant is expected to present a voluminous package of documents, including questionnaires, identification papers, a copy of the work record booklet, a certificate of good conduct confirming there is no history of a criminal record, a security clearance certificate allowing access to state secrets and a pile of medical certificates.

Given the volume of documents required, officials expect many of the applications will be filed during the last month of the call. The deadline for applications is July 14. Six to eight new cosmonauts will be selected.

Last year, NASA received more than 18,300 applications in its call for astronaut candidates. Canada received 3,772 applications for its selection process.

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Two New Crew Members Arrive at International Space Station

The Soyuz MS-04 rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan April 20, 2017, carrying Expedition 51 Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA into orbit to begin their four and a half month mission on the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — After a six-hour flight, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer and cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos arrived at the International Space Station at 9:18 a.m. EDT Thursday where they will continue important scientific research.

The two launched aboard a Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:13 a.m. (1:13 p.m. Baikonur time), orbited Earth four times, and docked at the space station.

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Forensics Expert: Ex-Roscosmos Official’s Wounds Not Self Inflicted

A forensics expert has said that stab wounds found on the body of a former top Roscosmos official who was awaiting trial on embezzlement charges were not self-inflicted, according to a Russian media report.

Vladimir Yevdokimov was found stabbed to death in a detention cell he shared with 11 other inmates on March 18. Law enforcement officials have been investigating the death as a murder, but had earlier not ruled out suicide.

Yuri Pigolkin, head of the forensics department at the First Moscow State Medical University, said he reached the conclusion after examining photos of the deceased.

The head of the department noted that Evdokimov could not have wounded himself in the chest area with such force. “These two blows. They probably get to the spine. Apparently, damage from these wounds can be seen from the opposite side of the chest. In addition, the wounds are deep and wide: the entire blade has probably been shipped,” the expert noted.

Yevdokimov, who formerly headed up Roscosmos’ quality control and reliability efforts, was arrested in December on charges of embezzling 200 million rubles ($3.5 million) from the MIG Russian Aircraft Corporation.

Yevdokimov and an alleged accomplice denied the charge. However, Russian media have speculated Yevdokimov might have been murdered to keep him from exposing other embezzlers in the Russian aerospace industry.

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Russia Continues Slow Shift of Launches to Vostochny

Soyuz launch complex at Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Tass reports that Roscosmos plans to conduct two satellite launches in December from Russia’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome as the space agency continues a slow shift away from dependence on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan.

The two Soyuz-2 launches will come about 20 months after the inaugural launch from the new spaceport in April 2016.

Roscomos head Igor Komarov outlined plans to gradually ramp up the number of launches from the facility, which has only one launch pad.

The state corporation expects that up to ten launches, including commercial ones, will be held annually at Vostochny, which is still under construction.

First commercial launches from Russia’s new Vostochny space center in the Far Eastern Amur Region are to begin in 2018, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos space corporation said. The space center’s commercial launch plan includes those for the OneWeb project aimed at creating a constellation of microsatellites to blanket the entire earth surface for broadband internet access all over the world.

“Two or three commercial launches are scheduled for 2018, six or seven – for 2019,” the Roscosmos chief said….

Vostochny’s construction began in 2012. The infrastructure for the first unmanned Angara carrier rocket launch is due to be ready by 2021, and for the first manned Angara mission by 2023.
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Roscosmos: No Immediate Plans to Send Tourists to ISS

Dennis Tito

A top Russian space official has warned not to expect a resumption of space tourist flights to the International Space Station any time soon.

Russia’s Roscosmos state corporation has no plans to send space tourists to the country’s segment of the International Space Station (ISS) before 2020, Roscosmos deputy director general for international cooperation told Sputnik in an interview.

“As for sending tourists to the Russian segment of the ISS, Roscosmos has no plans to implement such flights before 2020 because of the absence of the relevant capabilities,” Sergey Savelyev said.

He added that space tourism was not limited by ISS-related projects and Russia’s corporation was interested in attracting tourists.

Seven space tourists made eight visits to ISS during the 2000’s, beginning with Dennis Tito in 2001 and ending with Guy Laliberte in 2009. The most recent attempt to send a tourist to the station fell through when British singer Sarah Brightman pulled out of a planned trip in 2015.