A Russian Soyuz rocket lifted off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East on Thursday carrying 28 satellites, including a pair of Russian mapping satellites, secondary payloads from Germany, Japan, Spain, South Africa, and a dozen Earth-observing CubeSats and eight commercial weather payloads for Planet and Spire.
A Russian military communications satellite launched Friday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, riding a Proton rocket and Breeze M upper stage into orbit on just the second Proton flight this year, the lowest annual flight rate for Russia’s most powerful operational launcher since the 1960s.
Russian commander Sergey Prokopyev, German flight engineer Alexander Gerst, and NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor closed out a nearly 197-day space mission with a landing in Kazakhstan aboard their Soyuz MS-09 crew carry ship at 0502 GMT (12:02 a.m. EST) Thursday. The Soyuz crew undocked from the International Space Station at 0140 GMT (8:40 p.m. EST Wednesday) to begin their return to Earth.
Armed with a knife, scissors and other cutting tools, cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev went outside the International Space Station on Dec. 11 to slice into the thermal insulation of a Soyuz spaceship and inspect the site of a repaired air leak that briefly caused a minor drop in air pressure in the research outpost earlier this year.
Eight days after a dramatic spacewalk to inspect the site of a leak in the hull of his Soyuz ferry ship, Russian commander Sergey Prokopyev, German flight engineer Alexander Gerst and NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor geared up to depart the International Space Station Wednesday for a fiery plunge back to Earth.
The French military’s newest sharp-eyed optical surveillance satellite lifted off at 1637 GMT (11:37 a.m. EST) Wednesday from French Guiana aboard a Russian-built Soyuz launcher, marking Arianespace’s 11th and final launch of 2018. The Soyuz rocket and Fregat upper stage will place the CSO 1 spacecraft into orbit around 500 miles (800 kilometers) above Earth. Managers delayed the launch from Tuesday due to unfavorable high-altitude winds.
Clad in pressurized spacesuits, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev used knives and scissors to slice through insulation and a debris shield on a Soyuz spaceship set to return to Earth next week, finally reaching the capsule’s metallic hull to examine the site of an air leak plugged in August.