Wed, 05 Aug 2020

A U.S. astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts are set to blast off for the International Space Station (ISS) from the Russian-operated Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The launch is scheduled to take place at 1:05 p.m. local time (0805 GMT/UTC) on April 9.

U.S. astronaut Christopher Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner will travel aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and are scheduled to dock with the ISS after about six hours of spaceflight.

The mission is scheduled to last six months.

The three men spent a month in quarantine ahead of the launch amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Journalists were not allowed to enter Baikonur for the traditional farewell press conference as an additional precaution, and the three-man crew was not permitted to say goodbye to their families in person.

Cassidy, 50, admitted that the crew was 'affected' by their families not being able to be in Baikonur for the launch.

'But we understand that the whole world is also impacted by the same crisis,' he said.

The new additions to the ISS crew are to join U.S. astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, who are scheduled to return to Earth on April 17.

The space station, which orbits about 400 kilometers above Earth, is tasked with conducting scientific experiments.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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