NASA’s acting administrator said Tuesday he does not expect Russian cosmonauts to start launching to the International Space Station on U.S. commercial crew vehicles until next year. A proposed agreement with Russia to ensure the space station is always staffed with an international crew is awaiting U.S. government approval.
Russian commander Sergey Ryzhikov, flight engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins climbed into their Soyuz landing craft and undocked from the International Space Station at 9:34 p.m. EDT Friday (0134 GMT Saturday). The trio touched down on the barren steppes of Kazakhstan at 12:56 a.m. EDT (0456 GMT) to wrap up six months in orbit.
Two cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut wrapping up a six-month stay aboard the International Space Station readied their Soyuz ferry ship for a fiery plunge back to Earth early Saturday amid preparations in Florida for launch of another station-bound crew Thursday aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
NASA and SpaceX officials are moving forward with preparations to launch the next commercial Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station next week after a Flight Readiness Review Thursday, pending a final evaluation of a discovery by SpaceX that it has potentially been loading slightly more propellant than expected into its Falcon 9 rockets.
Veteran Russian commander Oleg Novitskiy, rookie flight engineer Pyotr Dubrov, and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei launched into orbit Friday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:42 a.m. EDT (0742 GMT). The crew members rode a Soyuz capsule in pursuit of the International Space Station, where docking occurred at 7:05 a.m. EDT (1105 GMT).