Russian spacecraft carrying a new probe to the icy moon of Europa will launch on Saturday, Russian officials said, a milestone in the country’s quest to send an unmanned probe to another world.
The Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft will dock with the International Space Station on a mission lasting at least four months.
That means it will be about the same length as the International Metrology Agency’s new Europa Clipper spacecraft.
The TMA spacecraft is designed to collect data on a variety of planetary systems.
It is not designed to return to Earth to collect samples or return to Mars for more than a few days.
The launch was officially confirmed by the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, in a news release.
The mission will launch in July from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The spacecraft will enter Earth’s orbit and will fly about 10 days before reaching its destination, the agency said.
Ahead of the launch, the TMA team met with cosmonauts, scientists and the international space agencies and held a special briefing, Roskosmos said.
The agency said the spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the station in late August or early September.
The crew will be able to take samples and collect data.
A new spacecraft, the Energia spacecraft, will also fly to the station later in the summer.
The spacecraft is the first in a new generation of Russian space probes.
The new probe will carry a camera to study the planet’s moon Europa.
The TMA mission will be the first time the spacecraft has visited the planet since it was launched in 2015.
The mission is designed by a team of Russian scientists led by Igor Korolev.
The crew of the Europa Clips will include cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky and two Russian cosmonaders.
The three cosmoners will be joined by a pilot and an astronaut.