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Russia’s Soyuz manned spacecraft blasts off on ultrafast flight to ISS

The crew will spend 177 days in space

BAIKONUR SPACEPORT/Kazakhstan/, October 14. /TASS/. A Russian Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with a Soyuz MS-17 manned spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur spaceport on a super-short flight to the International Space Station.

The two-orbit rendezvous with the station  will take three hours and seven minutes.

The Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket was launched from Site No. 31 (Vostok launch pad) of the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan at 08:45 a.m. Moscow time to deliver Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov, as well as NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins to the orbital outpost.

In nearly nine minutes the spacecraft was put into orbit. The spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the Rassvet module at 11:52 a.m. Moscow time on the same day.

The crew will take aboard a knitted soft toy of a cosmonaut, to be used as a zero gravity indicator. The toy, made by the wife of Sergei Kud-Sverchkov, was nicknamed Yura - a reference to the first man in space, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

In the orbit

The crew will spend 177 days in space. During the new expedition, Russian cosmonauts Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov will carry out 55 scientific researches and experiments, including four new probes. Three scientific experiments will be carried out without the crew’s participation.

The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft crew will bring additional equipment to detect an air leak aboard the ISS, which continues since September 2019. To that end, Russian cosmonauts will take additional equipment to trace the leak more accurately and more thoroughly. They will also bring aboard additional upgraded sealant to plug it.

Roscosmos told TASS that cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who are currently working aboard the ISS, came to a conclusion that the source of the leak is located at Russia’s Zvezda module. The crew’s lives and health are out of danger.

During their mission, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov are to make two spacewalks, scheduled for November 2020 and February 2021. Both spacewalks will be needed for undocking and dumping the Pirs module next year. This is required for vacating the place for Russia’s new Nauka (Science) module that will be launched in April 2021.