NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and two fellow crew members arrived Wednesday for their mission aboard the International Space Station, temporarily increasing the orbiting laboratory’s population to nine people.
MS-15 spacecraft carrying Meir, Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos,
and the first space traveler from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Hazzaa Ali
Almansoori, launched at 8:57 a.m. CT (6:57 p.m. Kazakhstan time) from the
Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Their spacecraft docked to the station’s
Zvezda service module at 2:45 p.m., after a four-orbit, six-hour flight. They
are scheduled to open hatches between the Soyuz and the International Space
Station to be welcomed aboard the orbiting laboratory around 4:45 p.m.
hatches open, station commander Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, along with NASA
astronauts Christina Koch, Nick Hague, Andrew Morgan, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut
Luca Parmitano and cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, will greet the new residents.
days between the trio’s arrival and the departure of Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft
will see the largest crew aboard the station since September 2015, when nine
crew members were aboard for seven days during Scott Kelly and Mikhail
Kornienko’s year-long mission.
Skripochka will spend more than six months on the station. Almansoori’s
eight-day mission as a spaceflight participant under an intergovernmental
contract between the UAE and Roscosmos will come to an end when he returns to
Earth Thursday, Oct. 3 on the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft, along with Hague and
Ovchinin, who are completing more than 200 days in space.
Expedition 61 crew will spend more than six months conducting about 250 science investigations in fields such as
biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences, and technology
development. Work on the unique microgravity laboratory advances scientific
knowledge and demonstrates new technologies, making research breakthroughs that
will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars.
Expedition 61, crew members will install new lithium-ion batteries for two of
the station’s solar array power channels through a series of spacewalks. Later
in the expedition, spacewalkers are scheduled to upgrade and repair the Alpha Magnetic
a key science instrument housed outside the station to study dark matter and
the origins of the universe.
additional highlight of the upcoming investigations the crew will facilitate on
the orbiting laboratory is the AstroRad Vest. The vest will
use the International Space Station as a platform to test the new garment used
to protect astronauts from exposure to increased radiation as they prepare to
travel farther into deep space to the Moon and later Mars. Through its Artemis program, NASA will send the first woman and next man to
the surface the Moon by 2024, as part of its broader Moon to Mars exploration