New Trio Adapting to Life Onboard Space Station Before Next Crew Goes Home

NASA astronaut Frank Rubio (left), Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev (center) and Roscosmos cosmonaut Dmitri Petelin

At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 15, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio (left), Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev (center), and Roscosmos cosmonaut Dmitri Petelin (right) complete training preparations in front of their Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft as they prepare for launch September 21 for a six-month mission on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov

With the arrival of three new crewmates inside a Soyuz crew ship on Wednesday, 10 people are now living aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The new astronaut and cosmonauts from NASA and Roscosmos will spend the next several days getting up to speed with living and working in space.

New flight engineers Frank Rubio from NASA and Dmitri Petelin from Roscosmos are beginning their first space mission with veteran cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, who is on his second space station mission. The threesome blasted off from Kazakhstan at 9:54 a.m. EDT on Wednesday inside the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft to the orbiting lab. The trio docked to the Rassvet module less than three-and-a-half hours later. Once there, they needed to wait a couple of more hours for leak and pressure checks before opening the spacecraft hatch. Then they entered the space station to begin lab familiarization activities ahead of a six-month mission.

Soyuz MS-22 Rocket Liftoff

The Soyuz MS-22 rocket is launched to the International Space Station with Expedition 68 astronaut Frank Rubio of NASA, and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos onboard, Wednesday, September 21, 2022, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Rubio, Prokopyev, and Petelin will spend approximately six months on the orbital complex, returning to Earth in March 2023. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Three cosmonauts who have been residing on the space station since March 18, will end their mission and return to Earth late next week. Station Commander Oleg Artemyev and Flight Engineers Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov will board the Soyuz MS-21 crew ship, undock from the Prichal module, reenter Earth’s atmosphere, and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan.

During the traditional Change of Command ceremony next week, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will take over as station commander from Artemyev before he departs. The leadership change will be seen live on NASA TV, the agency’s app, and its website at 9:35 a.m. EDT (6:35 a.m. PDT) on September 28.

Meanwhile, as the two Soyuz crews begin handover procedures, the station’s four astronauts who have been orbiting Earth since April 27 remained focused on advanced microgravity research.

Cristoforetti joined Expedition 67 Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren from NASA who each wore a microphone attached to their shoulder to measure the ISS’s acoustic environment and how it affects a crew member’s hearing. Jessica Watkins, NASA Flight Engineer, was back on foam research looking through the KERMIT microscope observing microstructures not possible in Earth’s gravity to gain insights into future research and commercial opportunities. NASA astronaut Bob Hines spent the day servicing components on the Cell Biology Experiment Facility, a research incubator, before documenting his daily meals for a space nutrition study.

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