Soyuz MS-18 Rocket Honours 60th Anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s Space Travel

A 3-man crew docked on the worldwide Space Station Friday after a flight honouring the 60th anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin turning into the primary individual in area.

A Soyuz capsule carrying Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei docked at 1105 GMT (4:35pm IST), footage broadcasted by NASA TV confirmed.

“There is contact!” Russia’s area company Roscosmos wrote on Twitter.

“Hey, Expedition 64 – set the dinner table… Can’t wait to join you on @Space_Station in a few hours!” Vande Hei tweeted to the crew on board the ISS hours earlier than blast-off.

The launch got here simply forward of Monday’s anniversary of Gagarin’s historic flight on April 12, 1961.

Reminders of his achievement have been in all places on the Russia-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as Novitsky, Dubrov and Vande Hei ready for his or her half-year mission aboard the orbital lab.

The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft that the trio took off in has been named after the legendary cosmonaut and Gagarin’s portrait has been added to its exterior.

Gagarin additionally got here up greater than as soon as within the conventional pre-flight press convention on Thursday, the place the crew was requested how they deliberate to mark the anniversary as soon as in area.

“We’ll celebrate it together,” mentioned 43-year-old Dubrov, who’s flying to area for the primary time. “And we’ll work hard!”

Friday’s blast-off was from a distinct launchpad than the one used for Gagarin’s one and solely mission, which noticed him spend 108 minutes in orbit.

Tough occasions
Last utilized in 2019, the Gagarin launchpad is present process upgrades in preparation for a brand new technology of Soyuz rockets and anticipated to return to motion in 2023.

Gagarin’s mission was a propaganda coup for the Soviet Union and an enormous win within the area race with the West, which grew to become one of the Cold War’s most fun subplots.

But the anniversary comes at a troublesome time for Russia’s area business, which has suffered a quantity of setbacks just lately, from business corruption scandals to an aborted take-off scuppering a manned mission in 2018.

Perhaps most significantly, Roscosmos and Baikonur final 12 months misplaced their monopoly over manned ISS launches, as reusable rockets from Elon Musk’s Space X delivered NASA astronauts to the station from American soil.

The emergence of industrial rivals has left Roscosmos with a monetary headache – NASA has paid the corporate tens of tens of millions of {dollars} per seat for astronauts despatched to the ISS.

Russian area officers nonetheless speak up new ventures, together with bringing again samples from Venus and making a rocket succesful of making 100 spherical journeys to area.

Yet the area funds has fallen 12 months by 12 months as President Vladimir Putin prioritises elevated army spending.

Crowded area station
Space has confirmed a uncommon space of cooperation between Russia and the West amid rising geopolitical tensions.

But the ISS mission, which started in 2000, is anticipated to be retired earlier than the tip of this decade.

Despite speak of NASA and Roscosmos heading in numerous instructions because the area station winds down, crews have confused the significance of good relations for continued progress.

“When we first started we were competing with each other and that was one of the reasons we were so successful at the beginning of human space flight,” mentioned Vande Hei, who poked enjoyable on the haircut he gave himself throughout quarantine forward of his second mission aboard the ISS.

“As time went on we realised we could achieve a bit more working together… I hope that will continue into the future.”

The ISS, which is usually residence to 6 individuals at a time, is ready to be pretty crowded for the following week, with seven astronauts and cosmonauts on board earlier than the trio arrived.

NASA’s Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov, and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov are set to return from the area station on April 17.

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