international space station needs the replacement of astronauts on a regular basis. Anne McClain (USA), David Saint-Jacques (Canada) and Oleg Kononenko (Russia) are on their way to replace the members who are already there. They belong to Expedition 58 and blasted off from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in a Soyuz rocket. An earlier attempt in October by another team had failed and the astronauts had to make an emergency exit from their Soyuz rocket due to a technical problem. It was the first such incident on a manned Soyuz mission since 1975.

Daily Mail UK reports that this expedition will relieve the existing crew comprising an American, a Russian and German who will return to Earth on December 20. The Soviet-designed Soyuz rocket is right now the only lifeline to the space lab. This is one area where the US and Russia are partners in spite of differences in many other areas.

Team of manned Soyuz mission Expedition 58

Both NASA and Roscosmos have confirmed the normal operation of all onboard systems and the Russian member Kononenko relayed a similar message soon after launch. The duration of stay of the Expedition 58 team on ISS will be six and a half months. During that time, they will conduct research and experiments covering a wide range of subjects ranging from biology, and Earth science, to physical sciences and technology.

Commander Oleg Kononenko (54) notified that the crew would undertake a spacewalk on December 11.

This will be a part of an investigation into a technical issue related to the International Space Station. Anne McClain (39) feels a spacewalk is similar to sports because both require grit, toughness, mental focus. She is a rugby player, a former military pilot, and saw service in Iraq. The third member of the team is Saint-Jacques (48).

This is a first for both Saint-Jacques and McClain while for Kononenko it is the fourth. He has already spent 533 days in space.

SpaceX and Boeing could ease out Soyuz

According to Fox News, at present America has to depend on Russia to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. However, Russia could lose that advantage because Elon Musk's SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's Starliner crew capsules are turning out to be competitors. The astronauts of Expedition 58 will have a brief interaction with those who are already there and are set to return to Earth on completion of their tenure. One of the first tasks of the new team will be to capture the SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply mission that will be arriving with a load of material required for critical research along with necessary supplies.