Rocosmos has announced that it will replace two astronauts who were scheduled for missions on the International Space Station. The astronauts will be replaced with backup crew members.
The announcement was made during a press release that was shared recently.
Nikolai Tikhonov and Andrei Babking had been training for the upcoming flight, which is scheduled to take place at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. A NASA astronaut will also have a seat on the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft.
The decision was based on medical reasons. Russian news outlets have stated that Tikhonov injured one of his eyes, and the agency decided to swap both astronauts for a more experienced crew. Anatoly Ivanishin is a veteran cosmonaut who spent more than 280 days aboard the ISS during missions which took place in 2011 and 2016. He also has a military background as a pilot of MiG-29 A AND Su-27 fighter jets in the Russian Air Force. For this mission, he will serve as the commander of the spacecraft.
The Roscosmos presence on the ISS
Ivan Vagner will be aboard engineer, with the mission being his first venture into space. Chris Cassidy, the NASA astronaut, will take the role of station commander from Oleg Shripochka. The current station commander and astronauts Drew Morgan and Jessica Meir will welcome the new crew to the station in April and a handover period of one week will begin.
At the end of the handover period, the current team will leave the station and use the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft to head to Kazahstan. The Expedition 63 crew will remain alone until the first flight operated by SpaceX will bring two more NASA astronauts aboard with the help of the anticipated Dragon Crew.
The Dragon Crew still has to pass a few tests before it is fully operational, with the first piloted one being planned for May. Boeing’s Starliner capsule is also in the final stages of development.