Soyuz Heads to Space Station with New Crew, Return Transportation for One-Year Mission Team
Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos, Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) and Aidyn Aimbetov of the Kazakh Space Agency launched aboard Soyuz TMA-18M from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12:37 a.m. EDT on Wednesday (10:37 a.m. in Baikonur).
Three crew members representing Denmark, Kazakhstan and Russia have launched to the International Space Station (ISS) to provide a new ride home for the station’s one-year crew and continue essential research that advances NASA’s journey to Mars.
Aimbetov of the Kazakh Space Agency Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos and Andreas Mogensen of ESA (European Space Agency) Aidyn launched aboard Soyuz TMA-18M from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12:37 a.m. EDT on Wednesday (10:37 a.m. in Baikonur). They are set to dock to the station at 3:42 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 4. NASA TV coverage of docking will begin at 3 a.m.
Saturday, Sept. 5, at 2:40 p.m., NASA TV will provide a live broadcast as Expedition 44 Commander Gennady Padalka of Roscomos hands over command of the space station to Expedition 44 Flight Engineer Scott Kelly of NASA. Expedition 45 begins on Sept. 11 when Mogensen, Aimbetov and Padalka undock from the orbital outpost in the Soyuz spacecraft designated TMA-16M and return to Earth. The Soyuz TMA-16M carried Padalka, Kelly, and Roscosmos’ Mikhail Kornienko to space in March. Because each Soyuz remains in orbit for about six months, the spacecraft swap is necessary at the midway point of the one-year mission.
With the arrival of Aimbetov, Mogensen and Volkov, nine people will be aboard the orbiting laboratory for the first time since 2013. The 3 join Expedition 44 Flight Engineers Kelly and Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Commander Padalka and Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Kornienko of Roscosmos.
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, Kornienko and Kelly will reach the halfway point of their one-year mission to advance understanding of the medical and psychological challenges astronauts face during long duration spaceflight, in addition to developing countermeasures that will help minimize adverse effects. The pair will spend 342 consecutive days living in space before returning to Earth with Volkov in March 2016 aboard the Soyuz TMA-18M.
In the coming months, Expedition 45 crew members will conduct more than 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences, and technology development.
The recently installed CALorimetric Electron Telescope (CALET) searches for dark matter, measures cosmic rays and observes sources of high-energy phenomena in the galaxy. CALET seeks answers for several unknowns, including the origin of cosmic rays, how cosmic rays accelerate and move across the galaxy, and the existence of dark matter and its relation to nearby cosmic ray sources. Once scientists take an inventory of the highest-energy radiation in space, they may be able to characterize the radiation environment experienced by humans and encountered by space electronics. This may help determine risk of exposure to this type of radiation.