New ISS Crew Prepares to Launch on 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Expedition 60 crewmembers NASA’s Andrew Morgan of NASA, Roscosmos’Alexander Skvortsov and ESA’s Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency pose on 5 July in front of a mural bearing the insignia of the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission. (Credit: GCTC–Andrey Shelepin)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (ESA PR) — The next astronauts to join the International Space Station are on their marks for their launch to Earth’s orbit on 20 July, a date that also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, Roscomos’ Alexander Skvortsov and NASA’s Andrew Morgan arrived last week at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for an intense schedule of pre-launch activities.

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Russians Raise $87 Million to Upgrade Baikonur, Save Gagarin Launch Complex

Yuti Gagarin

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), a Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, in partnership with Middle East investors, GK Launch Services company and with the support of Roscosmos State Corporation, announces an investment of $87 million in upgrading the infrastructure of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The relevant documents have been signed today at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The project intends to upgrade Launch Site 1 (Gagarin’s Start) of the Cosmodrome with its following operation for Soyuz-2 rocket launches.

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Proton Back in Action Thursday After Being Grounded for 1 Year

Proton on launch pad (Credit: ILS)

Russia’s Proton booster will begin launching again on Thursday, June 8, which will be one day short of a year after its most recent flight.

Proton Breeze M will launch the EchoStar XXI communications satellite from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 03:45:47 UMT (23:45:47 Wednesday, June 7).

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New Crew Launches to Space Station

In this one second exposure photograph, the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft is seen launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
In this one second exposure photograph, the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft is seen launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (NASA PR) — Three crew members representing the United States, Russia and France are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:20 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 17 (2:20 a.m. Nov. 18, Baikonur time).

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying Peggy Whitson of NASA, Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency), is scheduled to dock with the space station’s Rassvet module at 5:01 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19. NASA TV coverage of docking will begin at 4:15 p.m. Hatches are scheduled to open about 7:35 p.m., with NASA TV coverage starting at 6:45 p.m.

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New ISS Crew Set to Launch on Thursday

A Soyuz rocket ready to launch a new crew to the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA–Manuel Pedoussaut)
A Soyuz rocket ready to launch a new crew to the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA–Manuel Pedoussaut)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (ESA PR) — On Thursday, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and Roscosmos commander Oleg Novitsky will take a lift to the top of this 50 m-tall rocket, climb aboard and wait for the trip of a lifetime. At 20:20 GMT the engines will ignite and propel the trio 1640 km in less than 10 minutes – averaging a 50 km/h increase every second for nine minutes.

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Ostapenko Appointed to Run Roscomos

Oleg_Ostapenko (Credit: www.kremlin.ru)
Oleg Ostapenko (Credit: www.kremlin.ru)

As earlier reported, Deputy Defense Minister Oleg Ostapenko has replaced Vladimir Popovkin as the head of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, as part of a major overhaul of the nation’s space industry. He will head up a beefed up space agency that will oversee an industry that will be consolidated under a single commercial company.

Wikipedia has a biography of Ostapenko that is excerpted below:

“Oleg Nikolayevich Ostapenko (born 3 May 1957) is a Colonel General in the Russian Military, Deputy Minister of Defence, and former commander of the Aerospace Defence Forces, a position he held from their foundation on 1 December 2011 until his promotion in November 2012. Prior to this he was commander of the Russian Space Forces from 2008, replacing Vladimir Popovkin….

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Too Many Rockets, Not Enough Dependability

Holy shi'ski! The rocket...it go KABOOMSKI! (Credit: Tsenki TV)
Holy shi’ski! The rocket…it go KABOOMSKI! (Credit: Tsenki TV)

Space News reports that while launch companies say too many providers are creating a buy’s market that has left them with razor-sharp profit margins, satellite operators are complaining about the lack of dependability of the rockets they fly on.

SES, for example, has spread its business around among SpaceX, Arianespace and International Launch Services (ILS), yet it is grappling with delays on each of the launch vehicles.

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