Russia has re-scheduled the liftoff of the Soyuz MS-02 crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS), setting Oct. 19 as the new launch date. The spacecraft that will transport a trio of Expedition 49 crew members to the orbiting laboratory, will blast off atop a Soyuz-FG launcher, at 4:03 a.m. EDT (8:03 GMT), from Site 1/5 at the Baikonur Comsodrome in Kazakhstan.
"It is planned that the primary and backup crews depart for the launch site on October 7. The launch is scheduled for October 19, 11:03 Moscow time (8:03 am GMT)," a source in the Russian rocket and space industry told TASS.
The start of the Soyuz MS-02 mission was initially targeted for Sept. 23, but was delayed due to a technical malfunction – a burned cable inside the spacecraft. Last week, the Roscosmos State Corporation announced that the launch will take place on Nov. 1 and decided to send back the crew to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow to continue training until the new launch date gets closer. However, now when it is confirmed that the mission will be lifted off nearly two weeks earlier, the trio will depart from Moscow on Oct. 7.
Soyuz MS-02 will be the second mission of the upgraded Soyuz-MS spacecraft. The crew of the mission consists of NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko.
The first flight of an upgraded Soyuz MS spacecraft, designated Soyuz MS-01 had also suffered an anomaly that delayed its launch. The mission, that transported Russian cosmonaut Anatoli Ivanishin, Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi, and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins to ISS, was postponed from June 24 to July 7, due to a malfunction in the spacecraft’s system of traffic guidance.
Developed by RKK Energia, the seven-metric-ton Soyuz MS spacecraft is a modified version of the Russia’s flagship Soyuz TMA crewed vehicle currently transporting international crews to the ISS. The upgrades include an improved position control engine and a GLONASS/GPS system. The spacecraft also has a new approach and docking system, a new computer, and more power-efficient solar panels.