On July 7, 2016 at 01:36 UTC the Russian “Soyuz MS” spacecraft was launched from Baykonur Cosmodrome. The space vehicle was orbited by the Russian “Soyuz-FG” rocket-carrier. The spacecraft is piloted by 3 cosmonauts: Commander, Russian cosmonaut Anatoliy Ivanishin (center); Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi (大西 卓哉) (right) and American astronaut Kathleen Rubins (left).
Photo by Russian Cosmonaut Training Center.
The space vehicle is to dock with the International Space Station on July 9, 2016. Ivanishin, Onishi and Rubins will join current ISS expedition members Ovchinin, Skripochka and Williams.
The “Soyuz MS” is an upgraded Soyuz spacecraft, featuring improved navigation, communications and rendezvous systems. The upgrades include additional redundancy in the craft’s maneuvering system and new communications gear that will allow voice and data to be relayed to and from the ground through Russian satellites over 70 percent of each orbit. Earlier TMA-series spacecraft could only send or receive telemetry or commands during passes over Russian ground stations. The spacecraft features an improved docking mechanism, better micrometeoroid shielding, upgraded solar arrays, an additional set of batteries and a reusable “black box” device to record and store a variety of parameters.