From Lunar to LEO, MS-13 trio blasts off toward ISS
Fifty years is a long time. In the past half-century NASA has gone from launching men to the Moon to being dependent on the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, for access to low-Earth orbit. The latest flight under that agreement took place 50 years to the day NASA achieved what was once believed to be impossible.
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were about 238,000 miles (383,024 km) from Earth. Today, U.S. astronaut Drew Morgan flew to orbit atop a Russian Soyuz-FG rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrone’s Launch Complex 1 in Kazakhstan. He was joined by Luca Parmitano of ESA (the European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov (Roscosmos).
The trio took to the skies at 12:28 p.m. EDT July 20 (16:28 p.m. GMT) starting their journey from the same site that U.S.S.R. cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin left Earth from when he became the first man in space back in April of 1961.
Fifty years can mark a significant change in capabilities. The MS-13 trio’s destination, the International Space Station, resides approximately 254 miles (409 km) above the Earth. The three man crew that comprised the crew of Apollo 11 traveled 238,900 miles (384,633 km) to the Moon.
Morgan and his crewmates spent about six hours (four orbits) before they reached the ISS. For Morgan the experience was a new one. Not so much for Parmitano (this was his second flight) or Skvortsov (his third). The MS-13 crew docked with the orbiting lab at approximately 6:50 p.m EDT (10:50 GMT) at the station’s Svezda module.
A couple laters the hatches opened and they joined the three space-flyers already stationed there (Expedition 60’s Commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos and NASA Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch).
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.