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Astronaut prepares for ISS mission with reduced crew



WASHINGTON – A NASA astronaut flying to the International Space Station next spring may be the only American on the station for long periods of uncertainty over commercial vehicle status.

NASA announced on October 30 that Chris Cassidy will fly to the station next April with a Soyuz spacecraft with Russian cosmonauts Nikolai Tikhonov and Andrei Babkin. Cassidy will make his third space flight and his second long-term mission, while Babkin and Tikhonov will each make their first flights.

Cassidy Announced Overload at a Briefing on November 7 at the Johnson Space Center About a week off with the departing crew of Jessica Meir, Drew Morgan and Oleg Skripochka, he, Babkin and Tikhonov become the They may have their own quarters, perhaps until the end of their mission in October 2020.

"We are preparing for half a year, when only we are three," he said. "We get a lot of extra training for Andrei and Nikolai for all US gear."

Cassidy hopes that either a Boeing CST-1

00 Starliner or a SpaceX Crew Dragon will visit the station during their time at the station, each with two NASA astronauts and in the case of Starliner the former NASA astronaut and current Boeing Associate Chris Ferguson with Boeing on the plans for a while. In October, officials told the agency that the SpaceX Demo-2 mission, crew crew crew crew test, could also be extended.

However, no test flight is scheduled with crew until the results of upcoming tests are in place to certify the spacecraft to carry humans. "With luck, we have a commercial crew," Cassidy said. "But we're also operational, mentally prepared to be only three of us at the station."

Flight delays forced NASA to adjust flight assignments to remain present on the station. Japanese space agency JAXA had hoped to have one of their astronauts at the station next summer to coincide with the Tokyo Summer Olympics, but lack of available seats prompted NASA to fly Cassidy on the only available Soyuz seat.

Kirk Shireman, NASA ISS Program Manager, said last week that they have assigned Cassidy for this flight, especially because of his experience in the spacewalk. "We need a very experienced, extraordinary person for the spacewalk," he said after a November 1 press conference on cargo mission NG-12 Cygnus.

"There are many considerations," he added to Cassidy's selection. "Really, just to make sure we can sustain the ISS in all their dimensions."

With a crew of three, the time for research is shortened. "There will be less man-hours available to the crew, as you still have to spend your basic hours per week to keep the thing going," Cassidy said of the station's crew of three on board. "Philosophy will change marginally in the way we treat the occupation, but the goal is still the same: to maximize the scientific hours in research, and we will do our best to do so. " He and his crew members do not expect space walks during their stay, unless they are needed for urgent repairs. "I doubt they're planning a normal, planned spacewalk," he said, with only three people on board. "If it's an emergency, a situation that requires repair, then we're ready and ready."

Cassidy will fly at the last Soyuz headquarters, which NASA has currently reserved for the Russian space company Roscosmos. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said at a press conference on October 24 during the International Astronautical Congress that "it is very likely that we will open a hearing and make an application for at least one more Soyuz seat from Roscosmos."

Sergei Krikalev Roscosmos executive director of human spaceflight told Interfax, Russia's news service on 7 November, that NASA had previously only asked Roscosmos for a "preliminary request" for additional Soyuz seats. "Roscosmos thinks about it so far," he said.

Cassidy, who was on a shuttle mission a decade ago as the 500th person in space, said he did not think much about the potential milestone after being the last American to fly on a Soyuz. "That's as important to me as the 500th person in space, which is pretty low," he said.


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