A manned Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft carrying three crew members launched from Site No. 41 of the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan at 8:45 a.m. Moscow time. The rocketship is on its way to the International Space Station. The three crew members on board, the Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov, as well as NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins, will spend 177 days in space.
The spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the Rassvet module at 11:52 a.m. Moscow time on the same day. The flight itself is supposed to take nearly three hours and seven minutes.
NASA mentioned that the launch marks a milestone for the Soyuz spacecraft as it becomes the first-ever spacecraft to use a new “ultrafast” rendezvous scheme with the International Space Station. NASA had also mentioned before the crewed space-craft made its journey to the space station, the ultrafast method has been tested before using uncrewed Progress resupply spacecraft.
More than 150 professional rescuers, an air squadron of eight Mi-8 helicopters, three An-26 planes and one An-12 plane, as well as 18 vehicles, were engaged before the Soyuz MS-17 took off.
As for the mission of the manned space-flight, the crew members are supposed to bring additional equipment to the ISS to detect an air leak onboard, which persisted since September 2019. They also took with them additional upgraded sealant to repair the leak. The Russian cosmonauts are carrying equipment which will accurately and thoroughly trace the leak.
Apparently, two of the cosmonauts, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, stationed at the ISS, found out that the source of the leak is located somewhere at Russia’s Zvezda module. Roscosmos was quick to state that the crew’s lives and health are not in any danger as of now.
During the course of the crew’s space mission, the Russian cosmonauts will carry out a total of 55 researches and experiments, including four new probes. Additionally, three more scientific experiments will be carried out eventually but without the crew’s participation.