A launch vehicle of the Soyuz 2.1a type took off from the base in Baykonur in Kazakhstan at 3:54 pm Belgian time, according to images from NASA. The Soyuz hurled a Soyuz MS-22 capsule toward the space station. About three hours later, the capsule arrived safely at the ISS, where it is automatically docked to the Russian Rassvet module.
The passengers are the Russians Sergei Prokopjev and Dmitri Petelin, and the American Frank Rubio. Rubio is the first American in a Soyuz since April 2021. Earlier this year, the American space agency NASA and its Russian counterpart Roskosmos signed a ‘seat swap’ agreement. This allows American astronauts to fly Russian spaceships and Russian cosmonauts with SpaceX’s Dragon, with NASA providing manned transport to and from the ISS. In October, Anna Kikina, currently the only active female cosmonaut, flies a Crew Dragon to the space station.
The crew arriving Wednesday will have to walk in space five times during their 188-day stay. They are also expected to conduct 48 experiments, launch satellites and perform tasks related to the equipment of the space station. Remarkably, their duties also include playing soccer on the ISS. During previous missions, the space station has also played tennis and badminton.
In addition to the three crew members, the Soyuz carries hygiene and medical items, scientific equipment and personal items belonging to the crew on board.