A spacious crew of three completed Wednesday preparations for a mission to the international space station ISS, which continues despite the coronavirus pandemic. Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Chris Cassidy of NASA will leave Kazakhstan on Thursday at 08:05 GMT for a six-month mission.
But because journalists and family members were unable to travel to Baikonur due to restrictions on COVID-19, the traditional farewell press conference broadcast by Roscosmos had a more distant and gloomy feeling. & # 39; Instead of just talking to some cameras, we would now be talking to some people & # 39; says Cassidy, getting ready for his third stint in space.
50-year-old Cassidy admitted that the crew was & # 39; affected & # 39; because their families could not be in Baikonur and therefore could not fly to the ISS. & # 39; But we understand that the same crisis is also affecting the whole world. & # 39; Quarantine and isolation from the rest of the world are not new habits for astronauts.
The glass barrier that separates them from media and loved ones during regular pre-launch events is specifically designed to protect them from potential infection. This time, however, their isolation was & # 39; even more thorough & # 39 ;, said Ivanishin, after the crew unsubscribed from visits to Moscow locations during their one-hour training outside the city.
Thursday’s launch will be the first time a manned mission will use a Soyuz-2.1a booster to reach the orbit after Roscosmos stopped using the Soyuz-FG missile last year. The newer boosters have been used in unmanned launches since 2004.
The improved missile is based more on a digital flight control system than on the analog equipment used in earlier Soyuz models. Ivanishin said the new system would be more independent and would require less manual crew input in an emergency.
“The system has gotten better, but it is early to say whether it is easier to control,” said Ivanishin.
(This story has not been edited by staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)