On Friday, three International Space Station astronauts, including United States’ Kjell Lindgren, Russia’s Oleg Kononenko, and Japan’s Kimiya Yui, returned to Earth safely via a Russian Soyuz spacecraft after a long stay in the International Space Station where they performed various experiments and observations to learn more about the way outer space works.
Now, with the team back on Earth, space agencies are preparing to send a new round of astronauts to the International Space Station to take their place On Tuesday, December 15th.
These astronauts include NASA’s Tim Kopra, Roscosmos’ Yuri Malenchenko, and ESA’s Tim Peake, who will all be joining three other astronauts, NASA’s Scott Kelly, Roscosmos’ Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov, who are all still aboard the International Space Station.
The rocket that will be launching from the launch site with the three new astronauts destined for the International Space Station on Tuesday has reportedly already been mated to the Soyuz spacecraft that will take them there at the Baikonur Cosmodome in Kazakhstan.
Reports say the rocket is being transported to its launch site, where it will serve its purpose in getting the astronauts to the International Space Station safely to continue their jobs in space, where they will conduct more experiments and observations that will help us learn new techniques for longer travel missions, such as those involving putting people on Mars.
“I watched as the rocket was loaded on to a giant flat-bed transporter painted racing green,” BBC’s Paul Rincon said. “On Sunday, the transporter will be hauled by train along the railway tracks that snake across the flat steppe of Baikonur to the launch pad where Peake, Malenchenko and Kopra will begin their journey.”
NASA is currently working hard with commercial companies here in the United States that would one day give the United States the ability to be less dependent on other nations for getting astronauts in space. Currently, we rely mostly on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get astronauts to the International Space Station because it’s a tried and true method.
Many commercial rockets made in the United States over the years have had their fair share of failures, but were fortunately unmanned. Bringing this kind of ability back to the United States would be better for the United States involvement in space exploration, but many trial launches will have to help build NASA’s confidence in putting American astronauts on board.