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Russian Astronauts to Spend a Year in Space Station in Zero Gravity

While the US forges ahead in sex change medical procedures

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

An international crew has just started a year-long mission in space aboard the international space station, including astronauts for Russia, the US and Italy. 

The mission patch bears the number "50" in honor of the Apollo 11 moon-landing, which took place 50 years ago.


The crew of Soyuz has arrived at the International Space Station. The spacecraft had been launched from Baikonur. The launch vehicle successfully docked to the Station after a 6-hour flight.

Boris Maksudov is reporting on how the cosmonauts were received at the ISS and what tasks the crew must fulfill.

There are now six people at the International Space Station. The new crew is taking over from the previous one. They got to the ISS in less than seven hours, leaving behind g-loads and the most exciting nine minutes of the flight. After these nine minutes, the launch vehicle overcomes gravity, and Soyuz goes into outer space.

“- The cabin is OK, the crew is fine.

- Roger.”

This 61st expedition to the ISS can be called the flight of three colonels. Italian Luca Parmitano was promoted a few days before the start. This is the second flight in his career. Russian Alexander Skvortsov is Retired Colonel and he's the most experienced. His total time on orbit is more than a year. He returned to space after an athletic injury and a long break. It was said at the pre-flight news conference.

Alexander Skvortsov, cosmonaut: "The most important quality is determination. Everyone has their own way to space. Judging by our experience, it’s a long way. For example, my way to the first flight took 12 years and 9 months. It's very hard to keep healthy and motivated.”

Each expedition has its own emblem, but this time there are no names and surnames. Instead, it has the Roman figure 50. By doing so, the cosmonauts decided to celebrate a landmark event in space exploration. On the same day half a century ago, an American module landed on the Moon. Today, mankind is again planning to conquer the satellite of the Earth, but this time the team is international.

Luca Parmitano, EKA cosmonaut: “This is an amazing coincidence that we are launching on such a special day on the fiftieth anniversary of the landing on the moon. I'd like to thank orbital mechanics for this fact. We do feel lucky to fly on such a day and by doing so, to celebrate this event. If you take a closer look at our patch, you will see that it is a sort of reflection of the Apollo 11 patch.”

The new crew has a lot of work at the ISS: spacewalks, scientific research. The Russian program alone has 52 experiments. Moreover, the crew must do maintenance works, take photos and make videos, ensure ship docking.

Andrew Morgan, NASA astronaut: “When we work together as part of international cooperation, we can achieve much more important results. At the moment we are focused on our specific mission, on our flight to the station. And I would like to stress that when we work together under an international cooperation program, we can do a lot more.”

In August, Fyodor will join the cosmonauts. It's a robot for manipulations in outer space. He will be the only passenger of the next flight to the ISS. The Italian astronaut prepared a musical surprise specifically for works in space. He is going to play a DJ set.

The crew of the 61st expedition will be in orbit for almost a month and a half longer than planned at the American request allegedly due to problems with the NASA manned spacecraft. The American astronaut Andrew Morgan will spend in orbit the longest time, 256 days. All the three colonels will celebrate the New Year in space.

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