Two US astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut yesterday docked at the International Space Station (ISS) for a five-month mission following a nighttime launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Russia’s Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities said that the Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft “successfully docked” at the International Space Station at 2:55am in a statement on its Web site.
The Soyuz rocket carrying Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos, NASA first-time flyer Mark Vande Hei and his veteran colleague Joseph Acaba launched as scheduled.
The trio will now join Paolo Nespoli of Italy, Sergey Riazanski of Russia and Randy Bresnik of the US aboard the orbital lab.
The launch marked the first time two US astronauts have blasted off together on a mission to the International Space Station from Russia’s Baikonur since June 2010.
The US space agency stopped its own manned launches to the International Space Station in 2011, but recently moved to increase its crew complement aboard the space station as the Russians cut theirs in a cost-saving measure announced last year.
Acaba, 50, has spent nearly 138 days in space over two missions, while Vande Hei, 50, served with the US army in Iraq before training as an astronaut.
Misurkin, 39, who is beginning his second mission aboard the space station, also has a military background.
Speaking at the pre-launch news conference on Monday, Acaba, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, said he would be taking some musica Latina on board to lift his crewmates’ spirits.
“I can guarantee my crewmates they will not fall asleep during that music and if you want to dance at about 3am tuned into our Soyuz capsule I think you’ll enjoy it,” he said.
The launch has been overshadowed by deadly storms that have battered the Caribbean and the southern half of the US. External cameras on the space station captured footage of Hurricane Irma last week brewing over the Atlantic as it prepared to wreak deadly havoc. NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston said earlier this month it suffered “significant” damage during Hurricane Harvey, although Mission Control remained operational.
Vande Hei struck a sombre note in a pre-launch tweet on Monday.
“L-2 days. Sunrise over Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Praying for the people of Florida as well as the continued recovery of the Texas Gulf Coast,” he said.
Space is one of the few areas of international cooperation between Russia and the US that has not been wrecked by tensions over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.
The space station orbits the Earth at a height of about 400km, circling the planet every 90 minutes at a speed of about 28,000kph.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”