THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

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ISS III

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A rocket powering a Soyuz spacecraft has been prepared on a launch pad in Baikonur. Space veterans, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos and astronaut Timothy L. Kopra of NASA, will be joined by ESA astronaut Major Tim Peak, who will become the first British citizen to go to space since 1991.

On Sunday – 13/12/2015, all stages of the rocket carrier were assembled at Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan. The rocket is scheduled for lift-off on Thursday 17/12/2015 at 14.03 Moscow time, from the pad used in 1961 to launch Vostok with Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

Major Tim Peake is the first British astronaut from the European Space Agency and will be making his maiden flight into space on board the Soyuz TMA-19M. He will become the second British astronaut after Helen Sharman’s flight in 1991.

Russia’s Malenchenko is one of the most experienced cosmonauts – he has spent some 641 days in space during his five flights and even got married during one of his missions. NASA’s Timothy L. Kopra spent a little less than 60 days as a flight engineer of Expedition 20 on the ISS in 2009.

The three-man crew will join Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who are already on board the International Space Station. Their expedition will last 143 days.

2015Soyuz prepped in Baikonur, ahead of expedition to International Space Station

ISS trio landed safe & sound in Kazakhstan, 1st return from space after sunset
Three crew members from the International Space Station returned to Earth on Friday 11/11/2015. The landing in Kazakhstan wrapped up a space mission that lasted 141 days and returned samples from several NASA human research experiments aboard the station.
The trio, flight engineers Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos (Russian Federal Space Agency) and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, have been in orbit for nearly five months.
Roscosmos added that all the operations, including descending from orbit and landing went normally. All three are safe and sound, added Roscosmos.
Their capsule touched down northeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.
On the ISS the crew took part in Earth observations and conducted research into physical, biological and molecular science.

Rfedspaa (c) 2016 Russian Federal Space Agency

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Samantha Cristoforetti, Andreas Mogensen, Timothy Peak, Thomas Pesquier.

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Russian Federal Space Agency

The Vostochny Cosmodrome

The new Russian spaceport Vostochny, now under construction in the country’s Far East, is to become the main cosmodrome, and in addition an international tourist facility.

Vostochny is now being built in the Amur region. Already one of the most ambitious projects in modern Russian and indeed world history, as well as its biggest current construction site, Vostochny will have seven separate launch pads when completed.

26/01/2015. The first carrier-rocket Soyuz-2.1a was sent to Vostochny from the Progress space rocket center in Samara. The rocket, now on a special train will take around 40 days to be delivered thus paving the way to the opening of the Cosmodrome.

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27/04/2016 Update : Vostochny Cosmodrome

Vostochny Cosmodrome has conducted its first space launch. A Soyuz rocket boosted three scientific and distance viewing satellites into orbit. 8 minutes 44 seconds into the flight the Volga upper stage carrying three satellites successfully separated from the Soyuz rocket.

All three satellites launched on the Soyuz rocket have been successfully deployed to their specified orbits. Experimental nano-satellite SamSat-218 disconnected from the Volga payload assist module. Ten seconds later two main payload satellites, Lomonosov and Aist-l, also reached their destinations.

The launch was observed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who decided to stay for an extra day to personally take part in the event.

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The Russian spaceport Vostochny

Photograph © 2016 vostokdrom.ru

The Russian Federal Space Agency

China National Space Administration

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Photographs (c) 2016 The Russian Federal Space Agency

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Russian scientists plan to test their first humanoid robot capable of performing outer space missions at the ISS in four years.

“One of our main goals at the ISS is developing technologies and preparing for deep space flights. In 2020, we plan to start flight tests of a space robot designed to assist cosmonauts and astronauts on their spacewalks.”

A human-like robot can take on dangerous missions by being remotely-controlled by an operator inside the ISS.

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Photograph of humanoid (c) 2016

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24/05/2016 Update

The Human Space Exploration conference hosted over 350 engineers, astronauts and employees from space agencies. The enhancing of the exploration of Mars and the moon being key points on the agenda.

European Space Agency (ESA) Directorate of Human Spaceflight and Operations announced the envisioning the “moon village” concept.

“Here we are in the cooperation with Roskosmos on robotic mission, because we think the moon is an excellent destination for itself. The moon can probably provide resources if we find water, ice… we can generate oxygen, hydrogen, fuel for engines,” “It can be a platform for further explorations and indeed the moon village will be a very interesting concept.”

The prospects of furthering exploration on Mars or its “surroundings” also remain high.

“[There are] lots of activities internationally ongoing, lots of missions, and now cooperation between Russia and the ESA with the successful launch of exomars will reach the orbit of the planet during month 10, and then in 2020 the next mission with the rover will be launched. Of course, we are thinking about what would be the next step. Should we go first to one of the moons of Mars, or would we go to eternal surface of Mars?”

Mars is a main destination “because it’s probably the best environment for us to have future life and future subsidence on the planet for the human race to continue”. – ISS Program Manager

“We’ll allow humans to travel to the Mars’ moons and orbit… and then ascend back to our platform and return to a habitation module which will than transfer back to cislunar”

The recent first Chinese astronaut sent into space, announced that he “felt very proud for the whole of mankind and for his country” when he viewed Earth for the first time from outer space.

China is currently working on building its own space station “which is to begin functioning in 2022 and is to be operating for no less than 10 years.”

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18/06/2016 Update

The International Space Station crew have successfully landed back on Earth aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft capsule after spending more than six months in space.

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Soyuz TMA-19M Space Capsule Un-docks from the International Space Station

Expedition 46/47 members European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake from the UK, NASA’s Tim Chopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko began their journey back to Earth, un-docking from the ISS at 0551GMT.

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The ISS crew members Timothy Peake of the UK, Yuri Malenchenko of Russia and Timothy Kopra of the U.S., surrounded by ground personnel, rest shortly after landing near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, 18/06/2016. Photograph copyright (c) courtesy Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters

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Update 07/07/2016

Russia’s  Soyuz rocket lifts off from Baikonur, taking 3-person crew to the ISS

A modernized Soyuz capsule has successfully blasted off into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with a three-man crew on board. The extended two-day flight to the ISS will give Russian scientists and engineers a chance to test out the new space technology.

In less than 10 minutes, the rocket carrier Soyuz-FG with manned spacecraft Soyuz MS-01 reached orbit. Once in outer space, the three-person team will take a two-day route to the ISS, instead of the six-hour journey completed by recently launched Soyuz missions.

The trio – Soyuz commander Anatoly Ivanishin, Japanese flight engineer Takuya Onishi and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins – is expected to dock with the Russian segment of the ISS on Saturday morning.

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In their 48-hour, 34-orbit journey to the station, the crew is going to test all the new systems introduced in the modified Soyuz MS-01. This would be the first of least two missions in which enhanced Soyuz hardware will be tested and verified.

The launch is a debut for the newly upgraded Soyuz MS-01 capsule. It is equipped with an advanced navigation radar, computer, attitude control thrusters, and cutting-edge motion control systems. 

On top of that, the new Soyuz MS-01 has more efficient solar panels, which will significantly increase its energy output. The brand-new module also has a new communication system and features a digital video transmitter. It will bring an improved visual interface between the space station and Soyuz MC-01 during its rendezvous with the ISS.

If all goes to plan, the Soyuz is expected to dock at 4:12am GMT on 09/07/2017, when Ivanishin, Rubins and Onishi will join three other space explorers currently in orbit. Expedition 48 NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams and Russian cosmonauts Aleksey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka, who have been on the ISS since March.

For both Rubins and Onishi, this is the first trip to the ISS and the second for Ivanishin. The Russian cosmonaut spent 165 days in space in 2011-2012.

In four month in orbit, this crew is expected to carry out nearly 40 experiments.

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The Russian Federal Space Agency

China National Space Administration

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