However, the schedule of the pre-launch preparation of Russia's Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the Progress MS-11 spacecraft at the Baikonur spaceport has been unexpectedly changed to carry out additional checks of the rocket before it can be launched to the ISS, a space industry source told Sputnik on Sunday.
"An additional pre-launch day, following the day of transportation, has been added to the timeline of the preparation of the Soyuz-2.1a with Progress MS-11 […] Additional checks of the rocket are needed", the source said without specifying the reasons for extra checks.
This will be a second launch of a Progress spacecraft via a super-fast three-hour two-orbit scheme after the launch of the Progress MS-09 in July. The altitude of the ISS orbit was raised by 1.2 kilometers (about 0.75 miles) on Saturday using the engines of Russia's Progress MS-10 cargo spacecraft. The aim of the maneuver was to prepare the station for docking with the Progress MS-11.
The source stressed that the new rescheduling would allow NASA to ensure the presence of not one but three astronauts in the US segment of the space station until February 2020 in case of delays in testing new US manned spacecraft.
Earlier in March, the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft successfully docked with the International Space Station, bringing a new crew to humanity's only orbital outpost. The current ISS crew comprises Russian cosmonaut and Commander Oleg Kononenko, Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and US astronauts Anne McClain, Nick Hague and Christina Koch.