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Two Radio Amateurs Set to Head for the International Space Station


Two Amateur Radio licensees are part of the International Space Station (ISS) crew increment bound for the orbiting outpost this week. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, KG5FYJ, astronaut Takuya Onishi, KF5LKS, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos will launch early on July 7 (0136 UTC) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The trio will spend approximately 4 months on station and will return to Earth in October.

An upgraded Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft will carry Rubins, Onishi, and Ivanishin into space. They will test modified systems for 2 days — 34 Earth orbits — before docking with the ISS on July 9. According to NASA, the modified Soyuz is equipped with upgraded thrusters that are fully redundant, additional micrometeoroid debris shielding, redundant electrical motors for the Soyuz docking probe, and increased power with more photovoltaic cells on the spacecraft’s solar arrays. This week’s launch will mark the first of at least two missions in which enhanced Soyuz hardware will be tested and verified.

Once the hatches between the Soyuz and the ISS have been opened, Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams, KD5TVQ, of NASA, and Flight Engineers Oleg Skripochka, RN3FU, and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos will greet their new crewmates.

The Expedition 48 crew members will continue experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science, and Earth science.

Rubins, Onishi, and cosmonaut Ivanishin will replace Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra, KE5UDN; Flight Engineer Tim Peake, KG5BVI/GB1SS, and Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP, who returned to Earth in mid-June after a little more than 6 months in space.

NASA TV will cover the launch and the arrival. 



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