Spaceflight Insider

SpaceFlight Insider heading to Kazakhstan for Soyuz MS-09 launch coverage

International Space Station Expedition 56 prime and backup crew stand next to a portrait of Yuri Gagarin, who was the first human to fly in space. On the left is the prime crew consisting of Serena Aunon-Chancelor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of ESA and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos. On the right is the backup crew consisting of Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Anne McClain of NASA. Photo Credit: Victor Zelentsov / NASA

The International Space Station Expedition 56 prime and backup crew stand next to a portrait of Yuri Gagarin, who was the first human to fly in space. The group on the left is the prime crew consisting of Serena Aunon-Chancelor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos. On the right is the backup crew consisting of Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Anne McClain of NASA. Photo Credit: Victor Zelentsov / NASA

Next week, three fresh crew members are set to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) for a six-month stay as members of the Expedition 56/57 crews. A member the SpaceFlight Insider team is slated to be present in Kazakhstan to cover these events.

Soyuz MS-09 and its three-person crew—Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, NASA astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst—are expected to launch at 7:12 a.m. (11:12 GMT) on June 6, 2018, atop a Soyuz-FG rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz MS-09 prime crew. From left to right: Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA, Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency. Photo Credit: Victor Zelentsov / NASA

The Soyuz MS-09 prime crew. From left to right: Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA, Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency. Photo Credit: Victor Zelentsov / NASA

SpaceFlight Insider’s Sean Costello is joining a press pool on behalf of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in support of Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, who is serving as part of the backup crew for Soyuz MS-09. Saint-Jacques is expected be part of the three-person prime crew for Soyuz MS-11 in December of 2018 for Expedition 58/59.

The CSA and ESA have combined forces for this trip. Costello and the press pool are following the activities of Gerst, and to some extent Aunon-Chancellor.

While some portions of the itinerary are still tentative, Costello and others are expected to view the rollout of the Soyuz rocket from its hangar to the launch pad via railroad on June 4, the blessing of the rocket by Russian Orthodox priests, and tour Baikonur. Additionally, Costello, along with the press pool, should take part in the crew press conference on June 5 – and cover the launch itself.

Launch day activities include the crew walkout from the Cosmonaut Hotel and departure to Building 254 to put on their Sokol launch and entry suits.

Once that is complete, the crew will then head to the launch site—Pad 1/5—known as Gagarin’s Start after Yuri Gagarin, who used that site to become the first human in space in April of 1961.

If all goes according to plan during the launch countdown and ascent, the crew should arrive at the ISS around 9 a.m. EDT (13:00 GMT) on June 8, 2018. Hatch opening is expected to follow several hours later.

The Soyuz MS-09 crew will join Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, and NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel, who are currently aboard the ISS as part of the six-person Expedition 55 increment.

Before Soyuz MS-09 launches, however, the other three members of the current Expedition 55 are expected to land within their Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft on June 3 in Kazakhstan. Expedition 56 will officially begin as soon as Soyuz MS-07 undocks from the ISS.

Returning to Earth after 168 days in orbit will be Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Norishige Kanai. Soyuz MS-07 is expected to touch down at 8:40 a.m. EDT (12:40 GMT) June 3.

Soyuz MS-09 is encapsulated inside the fairing in advance of launch. Photo Credit: Roscosmos

The Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft is encapsulated inside the payload fairing in advance of launch. Photo Credit: Roscosmos

 

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Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a blog about the International Space Station, called Orbital Velocity. He met with members of the SpaceFlight Insider team during the flight of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket with the MUOS-4 satellite. Richardson joined our team shortly thereafter. His passion for space ignited when he watched Space Shuttle Discovery launch into space Oct. 29, 1998. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he soon realized his true calling was communicating to others about space. Since joining SpaceFlight Insider in 2015, Richardson has worked to increase the quality of our content, eventually becoming our managing editor. @TheSpaceWriter

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