Preparations Continue for Soyuz Crew Flight to ISS

The crew of Soyuz MS-16: Russian cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin and with NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy. (Credit: Roscosmos)

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan, March 25, 2020 (Roscosmos PR) — The final pre-flight training session of the prime and backup crews of Soyuz MS-16 transport manned spacecraft under the program of the ISS 62/63 Expeditions to the International Space Station (ISS) began at the Baikonur Launch Site.

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Soyuz Booster Launches Glonass-M Navigation Satellite

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On March 16, 2020, at 18:28 UTC a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket equipped with a Fregat booster manufactured by NPO Lavochkin (part of Roscosmos) launched successfully from Plesetsk cosmodrome carrying a Glonass-M navigational satellite manufactured by ISS Reshetnev company. The satellite separated routinely from the booster after three Fregat booster service propulsion unit burns.

Glonass-M satellites make up the base of the GLONASS system orbital group. They transmit navigational information and time data to the ground, maritime, air and space customers.

Fregat booster ensures injecting one or several spacecraft into Earth’s orbit or into deep space. The whole injection process is carried out autonomously. A highest reliability and almost ideal injection accuracy make the booster unmatched by the world’s competitors. This launch was the 80th for the booster.

Exolaunch to Deliver UAE Space Agency’s Small Satellite into Orbit on Soyuz-2

Pioneer satellites launch on board Soyuz. (Credit: Roscomos)

Exolaunch will launch MeznSat, a 3U cubesat aboard a Soyuz-2 rocket, for the UAE Space Agency in mid-2020.

BERLIN, March 17, 2020 (Exolaunch PR) — Berlin-based Exolaunch (www.exolaunch.com) – the leading launch services and deployment system provider for small satellites – today announced that the launch of a 3U cubesat, MeznSat, for the UAE Space Agency will be performed aboard a Soyuz-2 rocket. The purpose of the satellite is to study and monitor the greenhouse gases, specifically CO2 and Methane, over the UAE. 

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RUAG Space to Supply Payload Adapters and Separation Systems for Soyuz Launchers

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — GK Launch Services, an operator of Soyuz-2 commercial launches and RUAG Space, a leading independent space product supplier, have signed a Long-term Purchase Agreement for Payload Adapters and Separation systems for the Soyuz-2 launchers. 

RUAG Space will supply Payload Adapters and Separation systems for the Soyuz-2 family of launchers. The new purchase agreement between GK Launch Services, an operator of Soyuz-2 commercial launches and RUAG Space a leading independent space product supplier, has been signed on March 11. This long-term contract is for multiple launches using a RUAG Space separation system and payload adapter. The products are produced in the RUAG Space facility in Linköping, Sweden.  

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ExoMars Launch Postponed 2 Years Until 2022

ExoMars orbiter and rover (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Roscosmos Space Corporation have decided to postpone the launch of the second ExoMars mission to study the Red Planet to 2022.

The joint ESA-Roscosmos project team evaluated all the activities needed for an authorisation to launch, in order to analyse the risks and schedule. With due consideration of the recommendations provided by European and Russian Inspectors General, ExoMars experts have concluded that tests necessary to make all components of the spacecraft fit for the Mars adventure need more time to complete.

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An Astronaut’s Guide to Applying to Be An Astronaut

NASA astronaut Anne McClain is assisted out of the Soyuz MS-11 that returned her and crewmates Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency back to Earth on June 24, 2019, landing in a remote area near Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, after 204 days aboard the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

By Anne McClain
NASA Astronaut

About every four years, NASA accepts applications for a new class of astronauts. We in the astronaut office are thrilled and excited it is that time again! As someone who just went through this process a short seven years ago, I know how stressful it can be. It is hard to want something so badly for your whole life, to have a dream so magical that it has kept you up at night, then try to contain all that excitement while concisely describing your experiences and skills for complete strangers via an application form. So I wanted to share some thoughts for all those who find themselves in that position.

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Rogozin Crows About a Year Without an Anomaly

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin is taking a bow for the state corporation’s successful 2019 launch campaign, which was the first since 2003 to not record a single partial or complete failure.

An Interfax report highlighted one under appreciated advantage of not losing satellites year after year.

Rogozin said the year 2019 was not an easy one for global aerospace insurers from the angle of indemnities. European insurers were affected by the failed launch of the Vega satellite in summer 2019, their U.S. colleagues incurred losses from incidents involving low-orbit crewed ships, and there were also unsuccessful missions in China.

Rogozin assured Russian insurers and Western reinsurance companies that Roscosmos “will stay committed to the policy of transparency” in their interaction.

For instance, Roscosmos will be holding traditional annual meetings with aerospace insurers, and three international meetings will be arranged abroad in 2020. The developing dialogue between Roscosmos and the insurers “will allow them to discuss a package insurance agreement,” Rogozin said.

He invited insurers to visit Vostochny Cosmodrome in the middle of this spring.

Alexander Skvortsov Recounts Recently Completed ISS Mission

Alexander Skvortsov at a post-flight news conference in February 2020. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov gave his post-flight conference on February 10, 2020 at Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC). After a 200-day long mission to the International Space Station, on February 6, 2020 he successfully returned to Earth.

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Indian Astronaut Candidates Start Training in Russia

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — This Monday Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) has started the planned training program of Indian candidates for a spaceflight under the contract between Glavkosmos, JSC (part of the State Space Corporation Roscosmos) and the Human Spaceflight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

After thorough selection, the four Indian Air Force fighter pilots became the ISRO candidates for the spaceflight.

The 12-month training program includes comprehensive and biomedical training of the Indian candidates, which will be combined with regular physical practices. In addition, they will study in detail the systems of the Soyuz manned spaceship, as well as they will be trained in short-term weightlessness mode aboard the special Il-76MDK aircraft.

The Indian pilots will also be trained to act correctly in case of abnormal landing of the manned spaceship descent module in various climate and geographic zones. The most part of the training will take place at the GCTC facilities.

The contract for training of the Indian candidates for a spaceflight between Gavkosmos and the Human Spaceflight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation was signed on June 27, 2019. The document implies the support of Glavkosmos in selection of candidates, their medical examination, and various aspects of space training.

2020: Four Spaceships & the End of America’s Cosmic Groundhog Day

Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable, suborbital rocket. (Credits: Blue Origin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The clock struck midnight on Jan. 1 amid raucous celebrations around the world. The arrival of a new year and decade merely confirmed what had been clear for months: 2019 was not the breakthrough year for getting humans off the planet.

Neither Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin followed through on long-standing promises to fly paying passengers on suborbital joyrides. An era of commercial space tourism that seemed so close that October day in 2004 when Brian Binnie guided SpaceShipOne to a landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port quietly slipped into yet another year.

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ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano Returns to Earth

Video Caption: ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano touched down in the Kazakh Steppe at 09:12 GMT (10:12 CET), 6 February 2020 after his second six-month mission on the International Space Station. Luca returned to Earth in the Russian Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft alongside US astronaut Christina Koch and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov.

During his second mission, known as ‘Beyond’, Luca served as the third European and first ever Italian in command of the International Space Station. Before leaving the Station, he handed this role over to Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripocha in a traditional change of command ceremony.

While in orbit, Luca also performed four complex spacewalks to maintain the cosmic-ray-detecting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer AMS-02, remotely operated a rock-collecting rover in the Netherlands, supported more than 50 European and over 200 international experiments, gained the European record for longest cumulative spacewalking time, and publicly shared countless images as he warned of the challenges facing our planet.

Luca will now return to ESA’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany where he will continue to work with researchers to gather baseline data and undertake an extensive programme of rehabilitation supported by ESA experts. The findings of this research and Luca’s work in space will help shape the future of space exploration and enhance technological developments on Earth.

Record-Setting NASA Astronaut, Crewmates Return from Space Station

NASA astronaut Christina Koch is helped out of the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft just minutes after she, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, landed their Soyuz MS-13 capsule on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan (NASA PR) — After setting a record for the longest single spaceflight in history by a woman, NASA astronaut Christina Koch returned to Earth Thursday, along with Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency).

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NASA Astronaut’s Record-Setting Mission Helps Scientists for Future Missions

Christina Koch aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Christina Koch is set to return to Earth on Thursday, Feb. 6, after 328 days living and working aboard the International Space Station. Her mission is the longest single spaceflight by any woman, which is helping scientists gather data for future missions to the Moon and Mars.

NASA TV Coverage https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html#public

  • Wed., Feb. 5, 9 p.m. EST: Expedition 61 Crew Farewell and Soyuz Hatch Closure
  • Thurs., Feb. 6, 12:15 a.m., 3 a.m. EST: Expedition 61 Soyuz Undocking, Deorbit Burn and Landing Coverage
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GAO: Accelerating Commercial Crew Schedule Poses Risks

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s plan to move up the start of operational crew missions to the International Space Station (ISS) by Boeing and SpaceX could pose serious safety risks, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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NPO Energomash, Skolkovo Launch Business Accelerator

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — NPO Energomash (part of Roscosmos) and Skolkovo Foundation launch a business accelerator aimed at searching perspective technological projects for Energomash and rocket engine manufacturing integrated structure. The launch event included participants from NPO Energomash management, Skolkovo Foundation and representatives of smaller innovative companies. Energomash and Skolkovo management spoke about the aims and tasks of the business accelerator, as well as the way to select projects will be conducted.

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