Russia’s Soyuz-2.1a rocket with manned spacecraft blasts off from Baikonur

Russia’s Soyuz-2.1a rocket with manned spacecraft blasts off from Baikonur

A Soyuz MS-18 manned spacecraft named after Yuri Gagarin carrying three crewmembers of the next long-term expedition to the International Space Station (ISS) separated from the upper stage of a Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket and started its autonomous flight, a speaker at the Baikonur spaceport announced on Friday.

The Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the manned spacecraft was launched at 10:42 Moscow time from Site 31 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 9. The manned spacecraft will reach the orbital outpost in about three hours and a half, using a two-orbit scheme. It is expected to dock to the space station’s Rassvet module at 14:08 Moscow time on April 9.

The manned spacecraft will deliver Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei to the International Space Station, TASS reported.

The Soyuz MS-18 manned spacecraft was named after Yuri Gagarin to mark the 60th anniversary of the first human flight into outer space that will be celebrated throughout the world on April 12.

During their work aboard the orbital outpost, the Russian cosmonauts will undock the Pirs module to vacate the place for Russia’s latest Nauka research laboratory that will arrive at the ISS. They will make several spacewalks to prepare the Nauka module’s docking and its integration with the space station.

Overall, Roscosmos cosmonauts Novitsky and Dubrov will carry out over 50 scientific researches and experiments during the 65th long-term expedition to the orbital outpost. Two of these experiments are expected to be conducted in the automatic mode. In particular, the Russian cosmonauts will carry out 19 studies in space medicine and biology, five in space materials processing and two in cosmic ray physics while twenty researches will be related to space exploration technologies.