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Home / Science / Station crew on a busy schedule as commercial crew schedules increase – Spaceflight Now

Station crew on a busy schedule as commercial crew schedules increase – Spaceflight Now



HISTORY FOR CBS MESSAGES WRITTEN

The entire six-person crew of Expedition 56 gathers in the dome, the "window to the world" of the International Space Station, for a team portrait. In the front row, from the left, are NASA astronauts Serena Auñon-Chancellor, Commander Drew Fuestel and Ricky Arnold. Behind them, from the left, are cosmonauts Roskosmos Sergey Prokopyev and Oleg Artemyev. The group is headed by astronaut Alexander Gerst from ESA. Credit: ESA

An improvised repair job seems to have stopped a leak on Thursday in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked on the International Space Station. The crew returned to their normal schedule on Friday and conducted investigations by Japanese cargo ship next month

The International Space Station schedule is unusually hectic over the coming months with scheduled scheduled Soyuz crew transfer flights, un-piloted cargo missions and upcoming Boeing test flights and SpaceX to prove that their commercial crewed vessels are finally ready NASA relies on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft since the end of the shuttle program in 2011 to bring US and partner astronauts to and from the space station, while NASA is operating new commercial spaceship for the Soyuz Seats

NASA's latest contract with the Russian Space Agency, which estimates the cost of a Soyuz seat on arou to be 81 million US dollars, extends to take-off The Soyuz MS-13 / 59S on July 10, a cosmonaut, a NASA flying ship At least one US astronaut will be aboard the station by January 2020, to see if the new US ferries will fly on time or not next year. Russian news reports Friday that the contract expires in April, but NASA officials said the July flight was in the books for months and nothing has changed.

Boeing and SpaceX intend to complete an unmanned test flight, as before, to complete a mission with astronauts on board before the Russian contract expires. If all goes well, one or both US spacecraft will begin crewing later in 2019.

However, if companies have problems and delays, NASA may be forced to negotiate additional Soyuz slots for US astronauts or seek Russian it is not easy to implement either option and NASA managers will count on SpaceX and Boeing to bring the commercial crew ships as fast as possible from the ground safely possible. In the meantime, the Russians will continue the crew with normal rotations.

On October 4, the commander of Soyuz MS-08 / 54S, Oleg Artemyev, Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, plan to return to Earth for a 196-day mission. Six days later, on October 11, the space probe Soyuz MS-10 / 56S with Alexey Ovchinin and Tyler "Nick" Hague on board.

Soyuz spaceships are designed for three crews, but in this case for a cosmonaut One of the two, who were specially trained to work with a new Russian laboratory module, was pulled out of the MS-10 flight because of the launch of the laboratory has delayed.

In late November, SpaceX hopes to send its commercial crew Dragon Ferry to the station on a Unpopulated Test Flight. The capsule is said to meet with the lab and autonomously dock with the outpost before returning to Earth about a month later with a splashdown on the Pacific.

Then on December 13 Sergey Prokopyev, astronaut of the European Space Agency Alexander Gerst and NASA flight The engineer Serena Serena Auñón-Chancellor, launched on June 6, will return to Earth with the spacecraft Soyuz MS-09 / 55S and in the steppe Kazakhstan land to cover a flight of 189 days.

They are replaced by Soyuz MS-11 / 57S crew, consisting of Commander Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Anne McClain and the Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques. Their launch is scheduled for December 20, a few days before the SpaceX ferry is to take off for landing.

Then, in late December or January, Boeing plans to launch its Starliner capsule on an unmanned demonstration flight, reflecting SpaceX's complete with an autonomous rendezvous and docking. If all goes well with these flights, the companies will push ahead with preparations for the launch of the Dragon and Starliner crew on piloted test flights in the spring.

On April 5, the spacecraft Soyuz MS-12 / 58S will deliver Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronaut Christina Koch to the station, which temporarily increased the crew of the laboratory to seven. Again, a third crew member was pulled out of the mission by the Russians for delaying the new lab module. The module is currently expected to fly in the November 2019 timeframe. In any case, after launching the MS-12, Ovchinin and Hague will return to Earth and leave five aboard the laboratory complex.

From left to right: Suni Williams, Josh Cassada, Eric Boe, Nicole Mann, Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Bob Behnken, Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover. Credit: NASA

It is about this time that SpaceX hopes to launch the Crew Dragon on their first flown test flight and bring shuttle veterans Bob Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the space station. They plan to test a variety of manual and automated procedures to check the spacecraft's readiness to begin crewing later in the year.

According to current flight schedules, Boeing could follow the first flight of its Starliner spacecraft in the early summer time frame. On board are Eric Boe, Nicole Mann and Boeing Vice President Chris Ferguson, commander of the last shuttle mission in 2011.

NASA has already changed Boeing's contract to protect the extension of the first Starliner flight Continuous operation if significant delays occur in the commercial crew program. NASA may have a similar option with SpaceX. Whatever the outcome, the latest contractually agreed Soyuz flight with NASA-sponsored astronauts on board will commence on July 10, when the spacecraft Soyuz MS-13 / 59S Alexander Skvortsov, European Space, will be carrying Agency Astronaut Luca Parmitano and Drew Morgan in orbit. Parmitano, a veteran of the station, will command Expedition 61.

Two more Soyuz launches are planned before the end of 2019.

While the advent of US commercial crewships will leave NASA alone for the Russians, they will not let it end.

The station needs at least one US astronaut and one cosmonaut on board to operate their respective systems. Because of the possibility of an emergency that might force an earlier Soyuz or US ship, two cosmonauts will be launching aboard an American spaceship each year while two astronauts fly aboard the Soyuz.

This strategy will ensure at least one American astronaut and at least one cosmonaut will be aboard the station at all times, even if a medical emergency or other problem forces a ferry to depart prematurely.


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