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Russia’s state commission approves next expedition’s crew for flight to orbital outpost

It will include cosmonauts only, according to the Roscosmos space agency

MOSCOW, November 3. /TASS/. Russia’s inter-agency commission approved the crew of the 65th long-term expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), the State Space Corporation Roscosmos announced on its website on Tuesday.

The next expedition will blast off aboard a Soyuz MS-18 crewed spacecraft from the Baikonur spaceport to the International Space Station in April 2021, Roscosmos specified.

"By the commission’s decision, the basic crew of the ISS expedition 65 comprises ISS-65 and Soyuz MS-18 commander Oleg Novitsky (Roscosmos), ISS-65 and Soyuz MS-18 flight engineer Pyotr Dubrov (Roscosmos) and ISS-65 and Soyuz MS-18 second flight engineer Sergei Korsakov (Roscosmos)," the statement reads.

Therefore, a fully Russian crew will set off for the orbital outpost in the spring of 2021. Before that, a fully Russian crew flew to Russia’s Mir orbiter in 2000.

The commission has also approved the back-up crew of the next expedition. It comprises Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Andrei Babkin and Dmitry Petelin, the statement says.

Roscosmos Executive Director for Piloted Space Programs Sergei Krikalyov and Head of the Cosmonaut Training Center Pavel Vlasov earlier announced that the crew of the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft might fully consist of Russian cosmonauts.

The Roscosmos press office told TASS in May this year that the Russian space agency and NASA had signed a contract on the delivery of a US astronaut aboard a Soyuz MS manned spacecraft to the ISS in the autumn of 2020.

In October, Russian cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov and NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins travelled to the orbital outpost. It was earlier planned that Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov would fly to the ISS in the spring of 2021 along with NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei who had been a back-up crew member for Rubins in October 2020.