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The crew of the first manned spacecraft of the new series Soyuz MS answered journalists' questions

July 6, 2016

Today, on July 6 the main and the backup crews of the first manned spacecraft of the new series Soyuz MS, which is scheduled to be launched on July 7, 2016, held a press conference at the Baikonur launch site. Cosmonauts and astronauts answered questions from journalists and told about their impressions of the upgraded spacecraft.

A few minutes before the press conference the state commission approved the list of the main crew for the manned transportation spacecraft Soyuz MS, which includes a Roscosmos cosmonaut, the spacecraft commander Anatoli Ivanishin, a JAXA astronaut Takuya Onishi and a NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins.

The members of the main crew said that they welcome the opportunity to be the first to fly the new-series spacecraft Soyuz MS and pointed out its improved operational features as compared with spacecraft of the earlier series.

Roscosmos cosmonaut, the spacecraft commander Anatoli Ivanishin pointed out that it would be a test flight, and that was why the classic two-day 34-orbits profile for rendezvous with the ISS was selected, which is traditionally considered as more reliable and acceptable for spacecraft systems trials.

He spoke well of a number of systems and assemblies included in the onboard equipment of the upgraded spacecraft, in particular he praised the unified command and telemetry system, radio system fro rendezvous and docking Kurs-NA, digital control unit for the backup loop developed by RSC Energia, satellite navigation system and other systems and components.

“The radio system Kurs-NA was built using new hardware components, the equipment became lighter, the number of antennas was reduced. Thanks to an autonomous navigation system we can now instantly determine coordinates with a very high degree of accuracy. The thruster configuration has changed: now the two manifolds are fully interchangeable. Within the framework of the upgrade lots of things were replaced. On the whole one might say that the spacecraft became smarter and more reliable”, - explained the cosmonaut.

In his turn, the JAXA astronaut Takuya Onishi responding to a journalist’s question about whether he was worried about the upcoming first flight onboard the upgraded spacecraft, said that he had complete confidence in Russian space hardware and had no doubts about the commander's professionalism.

“I know that Roscosmos and RSC Energia have a very consistent and responsible approach to the upgrading of their time-proven spacecraft, which are deservedly considered the most reliable in the world. I’m very comfortable with flying onboard the newly upgraded Soyuz. History shows that it is a very reliable spacecraft”, - noted T.Onishi.

He added that he was going to take with him to the ISS a lot of Japanese food, which he was going to offer to anyone who feels like tasting it.

NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins pointed out that she was going to focus on science activities onboard the ISS, especially on experiments studying the effects of spaceflight environment on human body. She added that she was not afraid of the large amount of work onboard the station and would take part in dynamic operations, as well as perform a space walk under the program of the US orbital segment.

According to the members of the new crew the current ISS crew consisting of Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexei Ovchinin, Oleg Skripochka and a NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams were looking forward to gifts and letters from Earth which would be delivered onboard Soyuz MS.

The members of the main crew said that they were in excellent health and stated that they were fully prepared for the tasks on the upcoming mission program, had 100% confidence in the hardware and were looking forward to the lift-off.

The launch of the first new-series manned spacecraft Soyuz MS with the crew of the next expedition to the ISS is scheduled for 04:36 Moscow Time on July 7, 2016 from Area No.1 (“Gagarin’s launch pad”) of the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

During their six-months mission to the ISS, the crew will have to support activities with cargo transportation spacecraft Progress MS, the undocking of Soyuz TMA-20M from MRM2 and return of the three members of the ISS-47/48 crew to Earth; the docking of Soyuz MS-02 with three crewmembers of expeditions ISS-49 and ISS-50 to MRM2; to keep the station in good working order and take part in its resupplying. There are plans to conduct flight tests of the new spacecraft, which will include developmental tests of the new systems: Onboard radio system, combined propulsion system, motion control and navigation system, TV system; there will also be activities with the US cargo spacecraft Dragon, and the Japanese HTV. The program of applied scientific research and experiments (many of which were prepared by RSC Energia specialists) calls for 39 experiments in various fields – biomedical science, geophysics, biotechnology, etc. The total planned mission duration for this crew is 129 days.

The manned transportation spacecraft Soyuz MS developed and built by RSC Energia is designed to deliver the crews of up to three and their accompanying cargoes to the International Space Station (ISS), as well as to return them to Earth. When attached to the ISS, it also serves as a crew rescue vehicle and is kept permanently ready for emergency crew return to Earth.

The new-series spacecraft Progress MS and Soyuz MS were developed as a result of a radical upgrade of Progress M and Soyuz TMA spacecraft. The onboard command radio system Kvant-B was replaced with an integrated command and telemetry system with an additional telemetry channel. The new command radio link will make it possible to receive signals via relay satellites Luch-5, which will significantly increase the radio coverage zone for the spacecraft – up to 70% of an orbit. The spacecraft are equipped with an advanced onboard radio system for rendezvous and docking Kurs-NA. As compared with an earlier model, Kurs-A, it has improved mass and dimensions parameters and makes it possible to delete from the spacecraft hardware configuration one of the three radio antennas. Instead of the analog TV system Klyost, the spacecraft use a digital TV system, which makes it possible to maintain communications between the spacecraft and the station via a space-to-space RF link. Also included into the onboard equipment of the Soyuz MS and Progress MS series spacecraft to replace the equipment that is being phased out of production is a new Digital Backup Loop Control Unit developed by RSC Energia, an upgraded Rate Sensor Unit BDUS-3A and a LED headlight SFOK. Thanks to the use of new ground and onboard radio systems, it became possible to use state-of-the-art data transmission protocols, which resulted in improved operational stability of spacecraft control system.

 

RSC Energia press-center

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