ISS raises orbit; readies itself for Soyuz’s arrival next week

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Three new crew members are flying to the International Space Station (ISS) next week through a Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft and in preparation of their arrival, the ISS’ orbit was raised and placed in the correct orientation on Wednesday.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka will be arriving at the ISS next week. Kelly and Kornienko will be living and working on the ISS for a year to better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to the harsh environment of space.

“The ISS Progress 58 spacecraft, docked at the aft end of the Zvezda service module, fired its engines Wednesday afternoon for four minutes, 18 seconds”, NASA announced in a blog post.

The space agencies will be using data from the expedition to determine whether there are ways to further reduce the risks on future long-duration missions to an asteroid and eventually Mars.

The crew will support several hundred experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science — research that impacts life on Earth.

Padalka will spend six months aboard the outpost, during which he will become the first four-time station commander and record holder for most cumulative time spent in space.

NASA TV coverage will begin at 2:30 p.m. EDT March 27, with launch scheduled for 3:42 p.m. (1:42 a.m. Saturday, March 28 in Baikonur) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The trio will ride to space in a Soyuz spacecraft, which will rendezvous with the space station and dock after four orbits of Earth.

Docking to the space station’s Poisk module will take place at 9:36 p.m. EDT Friday. NASA TV coverage of docking will begin at 8:45 p.m EDT.