30 Mar 2022 10:38

Soyuz MS-19 operated by Dubrov, Shkaplerov, Vande Hei undocks from ISS

MOSCOW. March 30 (Interfax) - The Soyuz MS-19 piloted spaceship operated by Roscosmos cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei has undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) before landing on the Earth.

Roscosmos is livestreaming the flight. The undocking command was given at 10:19 a.m., after which Soyuz MS-19 undocked from the Rassvet module and commenced its departure from the station.

Once the spaceship reaches a safe distance from the ISS, it will start its engines for braking and will begin its descent from orbit. Later on, the spaceship will separate into a landing craft carrying the crew and cargo, which will continue a controlled descent, while the rest of the spaceship will burn up in the dense layers of the atmosphere.

According to Roscosmos, the craft is due to land 147 kilometers southeast of Zhezkazgan in Kazakhstan at 2:28 p.m.

Dubrov and Vande Hei arrived at the ISS on April 9, 2021, on board Soyuz MS-18 together with cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky. The latter returned to Earth last fall together with a film crew - actress Yulia Peresild and film director Klim Shipenko, who came to the ISS together with Shkaplerov on board Soyuz MS-19 on October 9, 2021.

As of this moment, Vande Hei is the last U.S. astronaut to reach the ISS on board a Russian spaceship. For the past year, astronauts have been traveling to the ISS by a Crew Dragon spaceship designed by SpaceX.

Russia and the United States are negotiating an agreement on the resumption of cross-flights to the ISS yet the fate of this agreement is uncertain, given the escalation of Russia-U.S. relations amid the Russian military operation in Ukraine.

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin told reporters on March 27 he does not deem the resumption of cross-flights to be necessary.