A spacecraft from Russia, the Soyuz MS-24, successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) following its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Onboard were an American astronaut, Loral O’Hara, and two Russian cosmonauts, Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub. According to Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, the connection was achieved just three hours after take-off.
The arrival of the trio has expanded the number of inhabitants on the ISS. They were warmly welcomed by the current residents: NASA’s Frank Rubio and Jasmin Moghbeli, Russians Dmitry Petelin, Konstantin Borisov, and Sergei Prokopyev, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, and European Space Agency representative Andreas Mogensen. NASA stated, “With the new crew members joining, Expedition 69’s population has temporarily swelled to 10.”
The space expedition holds varying durations for the new members. While both Kononenko and Chub are prepped for a year-long stay on the ISS, O’Hara’s mission will span six months. It’s a momentous journey for O’Hara and Chub, as both are embarking on their maiden space mission. Kononenko, however, is a seasoned traveler. By the culmination of this mission, he will have spent over a thousand days in space, establishing a groundbreaking record.
It’s noteworthy that the new crew is replacing the current Expedition 69 team, who had initially planned a six-month research endeavor but ended up spending a year in space. Their stay was prolonged owing to a coolant leak in their Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, likely caused by a minuscule meteoroid impact.
As their extended sojourn concludes, they’re preparing to head back to Earth on September 27 aboard the Soyuz MS-23. Rubio and his colleagues have been diligently gathering blood, water, saliva, and urine samples for scientific analysis—a task the incoming crew will seamlessly pick up and continue.
The Soyuz MS-24’s successful launch holds additional significance for Russia. It marks the country’s first launch since the unfortunate loss of its Luna-25 module last month. This spacecraft had tragically crashed during an attempted landing near the moon’s south pole, bringing to a halt Russia’s first lunar endeavor in almost five decades.
To provide some historical perspective, the Kremlin’s previous mission to the moon was Luna-24 in 1976. After that expedition, their attention shifted towards missions targeting Venus and the construction of the famed Mir space station.
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