HOUSTON, Texas – Three space travelers, including NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, are poised to launch Friday, April 9, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station. NASA Television, the agency’s website and the NASA app will provide comprehensive prelaunch and launch-to-docking coverage.
Joining Vande Hei aboard the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft will be Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos for launch at 3:42 a.m. EDT (12:42 p.m. Kazakhstan time) on a two-orbit, three-hour journey to dock at the station’s Rassvet module. Launch coverage will begin at 2:45 a.m. This will be the second spaceflight for Vande Hei, the third for Novitskiy and the first for Dubrov. The launch comes three days before the 60th anniversary of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s launch, making him the first human in space, and the 40th anniversary of the first launch of NASA’s space shuttle.
The trio will join the Expedition 64 crew, including NASA Flight Engineer Kate Rubins, who arrived on the station with Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos in October 2020, and the crew of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience – NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi – who have been in orbit since November.
The spacecraft will dock at the station at 7:07 a.m., with coverage of rendezvous and docking beginning at 6:15 a.m. About two hours after docking, hatches between the Soyuz and the station will open, and the 10 crew members will greet each other. NASA TV coverage of hatch opening and any remarks by the crew or flight controllers on Earth will begin at 8:30 a.m.
Vande Hei, Novitskiy and Dubrov will be part of Expeditions 64 and 65. The departure of Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov on Friday, April 16, will mark the start of the new expedition.
Video of the crew’s pre-launch activities in Baikonur are being aired on NASA TV from now until the day of the launch on Friday.
The Expeditions 64 and 65 crews will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the International Space Station, humanity’s only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory.
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