Fears coronavirus could reach ISS after Russian official at rocket launch tests positive for deadly virus

FEARS over coronavirus reaching the International Space Station have emerged after a senior Russian official present at last week’s launch to the space lab has tested positive.

Evgeniy Mikrin flew from Moscow to the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan alongside the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, in a Russian government plane.

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Rogozin – the Kremlin's most senior space official – was then seen close to the two Russian cosmonauts and one American astronaut as he supervised the launch.

Mikrin, 64, deputy head of Energia Rocket and Space Corportation, has now tested positive for Covid-19 and is in isolation.

Mikrin was seen sitting next to Rogozin when both men were separated by glass from the spacemen shortly before they blasted to orbit on 9 April.

But Rogozin – having had close contact with Mikrin – was subsequently observed close to the cosmonauts.

Pictures show Roigozin, 56, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, wearing a mask – and also without one.

At the formal farewell, Rogozin stood around six feet from the three spacemen.

He was the furtherest from the camera at the ceremony.

Nasa astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner did not have their faces covered.

Pictures do not show Mikrin close to the crew.

Cassidy said before the Soyuz MS-16 launch that the crew had been in "a very strict quarantine" for the month before the launch and were in good health. "We all feel fantastic," he added.

The crew’s commander Ivanishin said: "We've been completely isolated at this final stage of training.”

Yet the pictures of the moments before launch show they were sent off by a group – including Rogozin – who did not adhere to social distancing.

Newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets said of Mikrin:“He was on the same plane with the head of the state space corporation Dmitry Rogozin who was later talking directly to cosmonauts.

What is the ISS?

Here's what you need to know about the International Space Station…

  • The International Space Station, often abbreviated to ISS, is a large space craft that orbits Earth and houses astronauts who go up there to complete scientific missions
  • Many countries worked together to build it and they work together to use it
  • It is made up of many pieces, which astronauts had to send up individually on rockets and put together from 1998 to 2000
  • Ever since the year 2000, people have lived on the ISS
  • Nasa uses the ISS to learn about living and working in space
  • It is approximately 250 miles above Earth and orbits around the planet just like a satellite
  • Living inside the ISS is said to be like living inside a big house with five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a gym, lots of science labs and a big bay window for viewing Earth

The ISS comes equipped with five bedrooms, two bathrooms and a gym – plus plenty of science labs“It is not clear where exactly he could have got infected with coronavirus.”

Russia said extraordinary measures had been taken to avoid coronavirus getting to the space station with the pandemic.

Bespectacled Mikrin – Energias’ deputy head and chief designer who accompanied Rogozin on his plane for the three hour flight at his request – took two tests for coronavirus and both were positive following the launch.

He is among 30 Russian space personnel with Covid-19.

A coronavirus case has also now been confirmed at Star City, near Moscow, where the cosmonauts prepared for their launch.

Mikrin is in self-isolation at home but has no clinical symptoms of the disease, a space source told TASS.

Rogozin has not believed to have tested positive.

The Sun has reached out to Nasa for comment.

Last year, Nasa engineer Christina Koch took a stunning snap of the transition from day to night from the ISS.

A Nasa timelapse also revealed an astronaut's view as the ISS soars over Earth.

And Nasa plans to send "living human organs" on micro-chips to the ISS as part of a series of medical tests.

Do you think you'll ever get to travel into space? Let us know in the comments!

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