Russia Launches Expedition 68 Crew To International Space Station

NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin were launched into space on Wednesday, September 21. The trio will be a part of Expedition 68, which will begin after their arrival at the International Space Station. They will be joined by NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and , and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov. These astronauts and cosmonauts were launched to the ISS earlier this year, on separate missions.

The arrival of Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin at the space station will mark the end of Expedition 67, and the beginning of Expedition 68.

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Launch Of Rubio, Prokopyev And Petelin To Space Station

The trio were launched aboard the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, atop the Soyuz-2 rocket, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, at 6:54 pm Baikonur Time (7:24 pm IST) on Wednesday.

The Soyuz spacecraft is expected to dock into the space station’s Rassvet module at 10:11 pm Baikonur Time (10:41 pm IST) on Wednesday, after a three-hour journey, NASA said in a mission update.

The hatches between the Soyuz spacecraft and the space station will open two hours after docking, following which the Expedition 67 crew will welcome Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin on board.

Beginning Of Expedition 68 On Space Station

Oleg Artemyev, who is currently the commander of the space station, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov, Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, Jessica Watkins, Samantha Cristoforetti, Frank Rubio, Sergey Prokopyev, and Dmitri Petelin will be a part of Expedition 68.

The Soyuz MS-22 mission is the first flight into space for Rubio and Petelin, and the second flight for Prokopyev. They will spend six months aboard the space station.

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Departure Of Roscosmos Cosmonauts From Space Station

A week later, cosmonauts Artemyev, Matveev and Korsakov, who have been living on the orbital laboratory since March 18, will board their Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft to return to Earth.

The Soyuz spacecraft will undock from the Prichal module of the space station and descend through Earth’s atmosphere. Then, parachutes will bring the crew capsule to Earth. The trip will land in Kazakhstan, marking the end of their six-month-long journey on the orbital outpost.

Before the departure of the cosmonauts, a ‘Change of Command’ ceremony will be held, and Cristoforetti will take over as station commander from Artemyev. The leadership change will take place on September 28.

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