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MOSCOW, July 9. /TASS/. The first manned transport spacecraft of a new series Soyuz MS with a crew of three onboard will dock to the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday morning, a spokesman for the Mission Control Center said.
"Calculated docking time is 07:12 a.m. Moscow time. The spaceship will dock to the Rassvet mini-research module," the spokesman said.
The spaceship will take a crew of Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi and NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins to the International Space Station (ISS). It is the first spaceflight for Rubins and Onishi and the second one for Ivanishin, who spent 165 days in the ISS in 2011-2012.
According to the spokesman, transfer hatches between the Soyuz and the International Space Station will stay open from 09:50 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. Moscow time. After that, the three newcomers will join Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams of NASA and Flight Engineers Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos.
The Soyuz-FG carrier rocket with the new spaceship was launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan at 04:36 a.m. Moscow time on Thursday, July 7. The Soyuz MS was to be launched back in May but was several times postponed. One of such postponements was due to software problems.
Soyuz MS introduces a number of systems upgrades on the time-tested Russian spacecraft, primarily focused on the vehicle’s navigation, control and communications system. The modified systems were tested in an operational environment aboard two Progress cargo missions starting in December 2015 to fully check out all new components in space before committing to a crewed flight.
The MS modification replaces the old Kvant radio system of Soyuz with a Unified Command and Telemetry System and the new communications system enables Soyuz to use the Luch data relay satellites to keep in contact with mission control for the majority of its treks around the planet.
Ivanishin, Rubin and Onishi will spend approximately four months on the orbital complex to return to Earth in October. They will conduct 39 experiments in such areas as space biology and biotechnologies. They will also conduct tests under the program of developing new polymeric materials capable of resisting fungal and bacteria colonies.