Russia, USA launch module on the first joint ‘spheres of research’ flight

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NASA and Roscosmos successfully launched an entirely new type of spacecraft at 6:26 p.m. EST (2126 GMT) on October 31 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The “Spheres of Research” module, or Oryx-1, blasted off atop a Soyuz-FG rocket, using parts from Progress 56, the ship that launched it to the International Space Station in September.

The two-stage rocket performed the first stage from Baikonur, and the second stage was to be launched from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.

The Oryx-1 spacecraft underwent final testing at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan ahead of launch, according to Roscosmos.

For the first time in history, “Russian and U.S. astronauts will operate identical large versions of the Soyuz and Progress spaceship,” according to Roscosmos.

To carry all the hardware, the Oryx-1 has nine modules and weighs 800 kg.

“This is truly one of the most exciting days in the history of our collaboration with NASA,” Rogozin said in a statement. “Thanks to the concerted work of our two agencies, we succeeded in launching both the Russian module and the U.S. module.”

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