STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS & USED WITH PERMISSION
Members of the Expedition 64 and 65 crews aboard the International Space Station this week during a handover between Soyuz missions. Credit: Sergey Kud-Sverchkov/Roscosmos
Two cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut wrapping up a six-month stay aboard the International Space Station readied their Soyuz ferry ship for a fiery plunge back to Earth early Saturday amid preparations in Florida for launch of another station-bound crew Thursday aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
While Russian recovery forces deployed in Kazakhstan Friday for the Soyuz landing, SpaceX engineers hauled a Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon to the launch pad a few hours before the ship’s three-man one-woman crew flew in to make final preparations for launch.
“It is awesome being at Kennedy Space Center, especially on launch week,” Crew-2 commander Shane Kimbrough told reporters at the runway. “It’s definitely getting real. Our crew is extremely well trained (and) we are really excited and ready to go.”
The Soyuz landing and Crew Dragon launch are the second and third flights in a record four-mission sequence over just three weeks to replace the station’s entire seven-member crew after six-month stays in orbit.
It began ...