Astronauts Embrace in Space After a Month of Pre‑Launch Quarantine
Welcome hugs awaited three new astronauts who made it to the International Space Station (ISS) last week, after a month of pre-launch quarantine. Newly arrived crew Chris Cassidy, Anatoly Ivanishin, and Ivan Vagner will take over from the three astronauts they embraced — Jessica Meir, Andrew Morgan, and Oleg Skripochka.
Unfortunately, Meir, Morgan, and Srkipochka, who spent 7-9 months in space, will return to Earth while it battles the Covid19 pandemic.
The lift-off, which occurred in the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, remained low-key due to mandatory social distancing. Journalists were kept away from the event. Sparse crowds stayed at a safe distance, and the priest who offered a pre-takeoff blessing stood a few feet away.
“Obviously, we’d love to have our families here with us, but it’s what we understand we have to do to be safe,” Cassidy told the New York Post. “The whole world is also impacted by the same crisis.” Ivanishin added, “We’ve been completely isolated at this final stage of training.”
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“It was a stunning launch and docking,” according to NASA’s Mission Control, after the three astronauts arrived at ISS “And while we wish we had everyone to see you off from Baikonur, we know your family and friends, and your NASA family, were watching the whole way and couldn’t be more proud.”
The three new ISS crew members will conduct around 160 experiments over the next half year, focusing on biology, Earth science, physical sciences, human research and technology development, according to the U.S National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine also applauded the successful launch and arrival via tweet. He said, “Chris Cassidy, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner are safely in orbit. No virus is stronger than the human desire to explore. I’m grateful to the entire @NASA and @roscosmos teams for their dedication to making this launch a success.”
Who would’ve thought the cold, vast expanse of Space would bring us the warmth and joy we’re fighting to save on Earth? “We’re just really happy to get here,” Cassidy told the New York Post. We’re also happy you got a bunch of hugs, Cassidy and crew.