Yesterday, NASA reported the successful launch of the Soyuz MS-05 Spaceship from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, headed with a crew of three seasoned spacemen to dock at the International Space Station today at 6 pm.
“NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency are now safely in orbit,” reads a statement from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The astronauts are set to join the Expedition 52 crew of three already on board the ISS who have been conducting research for the past few months on the effects of microgravity on cancer therapies. Among their tasks, the new arrivals will further explore the phenomenon known as “puffy face syndrome.”
One of the consequences of living in a zero-gravity environment, fluid in the body which is normally distributed in greater proportions in the lower half of the body gets spread out more evenly, leaving astronauts with puffy heads and skinny legs, a condition that dissipates over the length of time in space.
The crew will be involved in more than 250 experiments in total, according to reports, involving biology, the physical sciences and technology development. The Soyuz MS-05 Russian spacecraft, which ferries people and supplies back and forth from the space station, will orbit the Earth four times before arriving and docking with the Rassvet module of the ISS at 6 pm EDT today, with NASA Television broadcasting the docking.
Italian astronaut Nespoli is making his third trip into space, and at the age of 60 will now be Europe’s oldest astronaut. Nespoli says he has lost none of his enthusiasm for space travel, saying, “For me, this is the way to not only feel young but also to keep active because, in the end, just having a feeling of accomplishment doesn’t work,” reports Nespoli to euronews.com.
“From space you can see earth and you see earth through different eyes,” he says. “You can see really wonderful things and during the last mission I promised myself I would take some pictures of special places and then go and visit them ‘physically’ when I’m back on Earth.”
Of the three, Ryazansky has the most experience off planet Earth, counting 160 days in space already, while Bresnik has so far logged 10 days. Bresnik spoke to space.com, saying he’s excited about the upcoming solar eclipse occurring on August 21. “We’re going to have a front-row seat to that — 250 miles closer than you will there down on Earth,” said Bresnik in a preflight interview. “We’ve got special filters and cameras, and we’re ready to go take those pictures and go ahead and share them with you on the ground,” Bresnik said.
The largest human-made object in space, the International Space Station, which now weighs almost 500 tonnes and is the size of a football field, had its first component launched into orbit in 1998. The ISS is jointly operated by five space agencies: NASA, Roscosmos, Japan’s JAXA space agency, the ESA and the Canadian Space Agency.
Canada will be sending its next astronaut to the ISS in November of 2018. Announced in May of last year, 47-year-old David Saint-Jacques, originally from Quebec City, has degrees in medicine, engineering and astrophysics and is currently in training for the mission. “The doctor in me is eager to conduct experiments and experience first-hand the effects of microgravity on my body, the engineer in me is eager to operate Canadarm2, the astrophysicist in me is eager to look at the stars while floating in my space suit, and of course, the adventurer in me, he’s just eager,” Saint-Jacques said at the announcement.