The three astronauts on the 58th expedition to replace the current ISS team, following the Soyuz explosion in October, departed today.
Anne McClain of NASA, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos are the three astronauts who left today on their way to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz MS-11 to replace the team that is currently in space. This new launch follows the October mission, which ended abruptly with the Soyuz incident due to operational errors a few minutes after takeoff, forcing the emergency ejection of the capsule with NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscomos.
The failure of the October mission could alter the ISS calendar, as it would be necessary to investigate the source of the problems before a new release. If NASA did not send a new team, ISS holders who were scheduled to return to Earth in December could extend until the end of January. Longer than that and the International Space Station would be abandoned for the first time since it's been operating for almost two decades.
Fortunately, today's launch is set to re-set the agenda, and the current team on board the ISS, consisting of Alexander Gerst from ESA, Serena Auñón-Chancellor from NASA and Sergey Prokopyev from Roscomos, return on 20 December after a stay in June .
The current team marks the "baptism" of flight of two members, Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques, "patronized" by the experienced Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos that is already the fourth trip to the ISS. The new team will remain on mission for the next six and a half months.
Second on NASA's agenda, the mission started at 10 am (Lisbon time), providing for a six-hour journey, making four orbits to Earth, until docking at the Space Station. The astronauts will have to wait about two hours to open the floodgates until the two teams can finally cross over to witness.
The new team will continue to conduct hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and earth science aboard the ISS. NASA is broadcasting the live mission with a variety of comments and add-ons.