Preparing for Expedition 50/51 entered into last phase on Earth and on International Space Station.
After landing of Soyuz MS-01 with Anatoly Ivanishin, Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi, International Space Station have been occupied only by three crew members: Commander Shane Kimbrough from NASA and Sergey Ryzhikov with Andrei Borisenko, flight engineers from Roscosmos. Expedition 50 with Oleg Novitsky (Roscosmos), Thomas Pesquet (ESA) and Peggy Whitson will reach Station on 19th November 2016, after two days of space journey. It will surely help in increasing productivity of ISS and will help in relieving current crew members, which are responsible not only for scientific experiments, but also for maintenance activities and extracting cargo from Cygnus OA-5 cargo spacecraft.
All three members of Expedition 50/51 arrived to Baikonur from Star City under Moscow, on November 1, 2016, and started their last phase of preparing to flight. They have tried and tested their personal Sokol space suits and begun last training before launch from working inside Soyuz on November 4. In the same time International Space Station was already after preparing for docking of Soyuz MS-03 on 19th November. Day after arrival of Oleg Novitsky, Thomas Pesquet and Peggy Whitson to Baikonur, flight control specialists in Mission Control Center in Korolev under Moscow, prepared Station for rendezvous and docking. They transmitted series of commands to change orbit of ISS orbit using onboard MSK engines on Zvezda module. It was not done as usual, using propulsion of one of docked Progress cargo spacecrafts, but with two main thrusters of Zvezda module. Whole maneuver lasted for 96 seconds and had begun at 03:22 GMT. Two S5.79 engines burning dinitrogen tetroxide and UDMH provided 2.95 kN each and increased speed of ISS for 1.5 m/s. This cause increasing orbit for 2 km; at the moment International Space Station is travelling on orbit with following parameters: apogee at 425.8 km, perigee at 401,7 km and with inclination at 51.66°.
In the meantime on Earth, Soyuz MS-03 is still passing last tests and procedures before launch. Today spacecraft was fueled with propellant and gases for pressurizing fuel tanks and onboard systems and is under inspection to detect any leaks. For tomorrow it is planned to continue general inspection of spacecraft.
Soyuz MS-03 will be launched on 17th November 2016 on atop of Soyuz-FG from Baikonur Cosmodrome; after34 Earth orbits it will dock to Rassvet nadir docking port.