ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen will leave for the International Space Station from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 2 September with commander Sergei Volkov and Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov. Their flight in the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft will take two days, arriving at the Space Station on Friday morning.
From 2013 onwards Soyuz spacecraft typically reached the International Space Station in around six hours. The longer flight for Andreas is due to the Space Station’s higher than usual orbit. The weightless research laboratory’s orbit was recently raised in a standard space-debris avoidance manoeuvre.
When a Soyuz spacecraft is launched into space it catches up with the International Space Station that is orbiting Earth at 28 800 km/h. It has to reach the same speed as well as the same altitude.
Because of the Station’s higher altitude, reaching the weightless research facility in six hours is now more difficult and Roscosmos decided to allow the Soyuz TMA-18M more time to rendezvous and dock.
Andreas, Sergei Volkov and Aidyn Aimbetov will be in radio contact with ground control during the two-days they spend in their Soyuz catching up with the Space Station.
For Andreas Mogensen and ‘iriss’ mission control the shorter time spent on the International Space Station will mean a significant replanning of his time and experiments.
Some experiments will undoubtedly have to be left for other astronauts to complete at a later date. Mission control will be working through the weekend to fit the pieces in to the new scheduling puzzle.
Follow the iriss blog for updates: blogs.esa.int/iriss