xi's moments
Home | Americas

US-Russian crew leaves for 6-month ISS mission

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-03-05 09:17

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off carrying astronauts and cosmonauts from the United States and Russia to the International Space Station at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, March 3, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

Astronauts and cosmonauts from the United States and Russia blasted off aboard a rocket belonging to Elon Musk's aerospace company, SpaceX, on Sunday night, ahead of a planned six-month mission on the International Space Station.

The launch, from the Kennedy Space Center in the US state of Florida, had initially been set for three days earlier but was delayed because of strong winds. It was threatened again when a small crack in a seal around the capsule's hatch was discovered shortly before take-off. The crack was eventually declared safe and the launch went ahead without a hitch.

The joint mission aboard the 25-story-tall Falcon 9 rocket was a rare example of cooperation between the US and Russia, which have had strained ties since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict two years ago.

The International Space Station, which is known as the ISS, is maintained by the space agencies of Canada, Europe, Japan, the US, and Russia, and calls for cooperation between the countries.

The crew of three men and one woman headed to the ISS is scheduled to do a wide range of scientific experiments upon arrival, which will include an attempt to grow artificial replicas of human organs, so degenerative diseases can be studied in the low-gravity environment.

The capsule that the four set off aboard, called Dragon Endeavour, has already been beyond the Earth's atmosphere four times on various past missions.

The reusable Falcon rocket that carried the capsule took the crew — comprising US astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, and Jeanette Epps, and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin — into orbit nine minutes after its launch, ahead of the capsule's planned docking with the ISS some 400 kilometers from the Earth's surface on Tuesday.

After arriving in initial orbit, Dominick, the mission's flight commander, radioed ground control to say: "What an incredible ride to orbit, a big thank you to SpaceX."

Reuters reported that Barratt, who is the only member of the crew who has been into space before, added: "Really honored to fly this new-generation spaceship with this new-generation crew."

He went on to say the mission had been like being on a "roller coaster ride with a bunch of really excited teenagers".

The new crew of the ISS is scheduled to replace a crew comprising members from the US, Denmark, Japan, and Russia that have been on the space station since August.

AP reported that the ISS crew that is scheduled to start work on Tuesday will welcome the arrival of two new vessels during its half-year mission: Boeing's new Starliner capsule with test pilots, which is due to arrive in late April; and, a month or two later, Sierra Space's Dream Chaser, a mini shuttle, which should arrive with cargo for the ISS.

Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349