Space station crew to blast off despite virus-hit build up


A three-man crew will travel to the International Space Station on Thursday and leave a planet inundated with the coronavirus pandemic. Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Chris Cassidy of NASA will depart at 08:05 GMT from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where COVID-19 has made changes to the pre-launch protocol.

Under normal circumstances, the departing crew received questions from a large press pack before being dismissed by family and friends. Neither will be present this time due to travel restrictions imposed on the virus, although the crew did respond to email inquiries from journalists at a news conference on Wednesday.

Cassidy, 50, admitted that the crew was affected because their families were unable to be in Baikonur because they were unable to fly to the ISS. “But we understand that the same crisis is also affecting the entire world,” said Cassidy.

Astronauts routinely quarantine prior to space missions and hold a final press conference in Baikonur from behind a glass wall to protect them from infection. That process started even earlier than usual last month, when the trio and their reserve crew settled into the Russian Star City training center outside Moscow, without traditional pre-launch rituals and visits to the capital.

Roscosmos said on Tuesday that cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka will fly to Russia from the cosmodrome, earlier from the usual stopover at Karaganda airport, when he returns to Earth from the ISS later this month. NASA has not yet confirmed the travel plans for Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir, who will be leaving the ISS along with Skripochka on April 17.

The ISS typically carries up to six people at a time and has a living area of ​​388 cubic meters (13,700 cubic feet) larger than a six-bedroom house according to NASA. Those dimensions will sound enviable to many Earth residents, more than half of whom have different forms of closure, as governments respond dramatically to COVID-19.

But residents of the ISS often feel lonely and long for home comfort. In recent weeks, astronauts and cosmonauts on the ISS and on Earth have shared tips on how to deal with self-isolation.

In a New York Times piece last month, NASA’s Scott Kelly said his biggest miss in space for nearly a year was nature “the color green, the smell of fresh dirt, and the feeling of warm sun on my face.” While recommending fresh air walks for those who can still enjoy it, Kelly also said there was nothing wrong with people spending more time on a screen during isolation.

While on board the ISS & # 39; he watched Game of the Thrones & # 39; and regularly enjoyed movie nights with crew members, he wrote. Two-time cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy has become the face of a 10-week challenge in which participants will post videos of themselves completing physical exercises as part of a competition for both youth and adults. The initiative that Roscosmos supports aims to ‘support people in a situation of isolation, instill a healthy lifestyle and thoughts by exercising regularly, without going out in public places’, said Ryazanskiy in a video promoting the & # 39; Cosmos Training & # 39; challenge.

The International Space Station – a rare example of cooperation between Russia and the West – has been orbiting Earth at about 28,000 kilometers per hour (17,000 miles per hour) since 1998.

(This story has not been edited by staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)


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