Russia has launched its second manned mission since the invasion of Ukraine began. And the first with an American astronaut on board since the war began. Soyuz MS-22 ( 11F732 No. 751) took off on September 21, 2022 at 13:54 UTC aboard a Soyuz-2.1a rocket from the PU-6 (Vostok) ramp of Area 31 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The Soyuz MS-22, or 68S according to the NASA classification, has been baptized “Konstantin Tsiolkovsky” in honor of the father of cosmonautics. Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev (commander) and Dmitri Petelin traveled inside, along with NASA astronaut Francisco ‘Frank’ Rubio. This was the 12th launch of a Soyuz rocket so far this year – an unusually low number caused by the war – and the 7th of a Soyuz 2.1a.
Soyuz MS-22 docked shortly after, at 17:06 UTC, with the Rassvet module of the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS). The three men then went inside the station and joined Expedition 67, also made up of Oleg Artemyev (current ISS Commander), Denis Matveiev, Sergei Korsakov, Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, Jessica Watkins, Samantha Cristoforetti (ESA ). Artemyev, Matveiev and Kórsakov will return on September 29 on Soyuz MS-21. From then on, Expedition 68 will begin, of which Cristoforetti will be the commander. The Soyuz MS-22 crew will spend six months on the ISS.
Soyuz MS-22 commander Sergey Valerevich Prokopyev (Сергей Валерьевич Прокопьев, 47 years old), is on his second space mission after traveling to the ISS in 2018 aboard Soyuz MS-09. A lieutenant colonel in the Russian Air Force Reserve (VVS), Prokopyev was a Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber pilot before being chosen as a cosmonaut candidate in 2011 during the 15th TsPK Yuri Gagarin selection process. On his first mission he spent 196 days in orbit and made two spacewalks. This is the first mission of Dmitri Alexandrovich Petelin (Дмитрий Александрович Петелин, 39 years old). An aeronautical engineer by training, he worked for Boeing and was selected as a cosmonaut in 2014. It is also the first mission of Francisco Carlos ‘Frank’ Rubio (46 years old), a NASA astronaut with Salvadoran roots. After serving as a helicopter pilot for the US Army flying UH-60 Blackhawks in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, Rubio became a military doctor and practiced as such before being selected as an astronaut in 2017 as a member of the 22nd Astronaut Group. from NASA. He holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army. The reserve crew consisted of Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Chub and Loral O’Hara (NASA), who will fly on Soyuz MS-23.
Rubio was assigned to crew on Soyuz MS-22 after NASA reached an agreement with Russia to swap seats on Crew Dragon and Soyuz spacecraft. Originally, instead of Rubio, he was to have traveled aboard the MS-22 Anna Kíkina, who will eventually fly with the Crew Dragon Endurance on the Crew-5 mission. In this way, NASA ensures the presence of American astronauts on the ISS even if Crew Dragon flights have to be suspended for any reason. For its part, Russia also manages to secure its presence at the station. However, NASA has received plenty of criticism for closing the agreement in the midst of the war in Ukraine. While other Russian space projects that have international collaboration have been canceled or postponed indefinitely (such as ExoMars 2022), it is clear that cooperation with Russia on the ISS is a strategic objective for the United States that is not subject to sanctions and other measures against it. Russia introduced following the invasion.
Summary video of the Soyuz MS-22 launch pic.twitter.com/Kj2xPtBJLM
— Daniel Marin (@Eurekablog) September 21, 2022