Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Russian-US ISS crew blast off from Kazakhstan - Arrival Delayed

A crew of two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut blasted off Tuesday from Kazakhstan on a Russian Soyuz rocket for the International Space Station, with US-Russia space cooperation continuing amicably, despite the diplomatic standoff over Ukraine.

Russians Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev along with Steve Swanson of NASA took off in a spectacular night-time launch at the start of a fast-track six-hour journey to the orbiting laboratory, where they will spend half a year.

All the stages of the launch went without a hitch and the Soyuz capsule successfully went into the correct orbit.

Docking with the ISS was expected at 03:04 GMT Wednesday but this has been delayed until 07:58 Thursday.

After the retirement of the US shuttle, NASA is for now wholly reliant on Russia for delivering astronauts to the space station on its tried-and-trusted Soyuz launch and capsule system.

Space officials have made clear that space cooperation, one of the few areas of genuine mutual work between Russia and the United States, will continue unaffected by the mounting diplomatic strains that have seen the US impose sanctions on Russian officials over Moscow's seizure of Crimea.

A yellow toy duck nicknamed "quack" given to Swanson by his daughter hung in the cockpit and started floating a few minutes into launch as the crew started to experience weightlessness.

-'We'll live together peacefully'-

Arrival Delayed
The next trio of crew members destined for the International Space Station is now looking forward to a Thursday arrival at the orbiting laboratory after their Soyuz spacecraft was unable to complete its third thruster burn to fine-tune its approach. 

Flight controllers in the Mission Control Center outside Moscow are now reverting to a backup 34-orbit rendezvous, which would result in an arrival and docking at 7:58 p.m. EDT Thursday, March 27.

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