Oct 14, 2020 - Science

NASA astronaut takes off on final U.S. voyage on Russian rocket

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov aboard the spacecraft
NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov aboard the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft. Photo: NASA/Twitter

The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday morning with NASA astronaut Kate Rubins aboard, bound for the International Space Station (ISS).

Why it matters: Per Axios' Miriam Kramer, this is the last contracted flight on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft for NASA, marking the transition to using U.S. launch providers like SpaceX instead.

Of note: The launch comes ahead of the 20th anniversary of the arrival of the first crew on the ISS, on Nov. 2, 2000.

  • The $100 billion ISS has since been continuously occupied by rotating crews of astronauts from the U.S., Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan.

What they're saying: It's "incredible that we've had a space station with continuous human presence for 20 years," said Rubins ahead of her second trip to the ISS — which fell on her birthday — per CBS News.

  • "It's one of the most incredible engineering achievements, I think, that humanity has done," she added. "And the fact that we've done it as an international partnership and a collaboration, I think that's absolutely the intangible benefit of all of this."

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