KAZAKHSTAN – Two NASA astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut launched to the International Space Station Tuesday on a Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft.
The launch is scheduled for 5:17 p.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The Expedition 53 crewmembers arrived at the International Space Station at 10:57 p.m., just five hours and 40 minutes after the launch.
NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba, and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, will join NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy and the European Space Agency’s Paolo Nespoli at the ISS.
The crews will meet when the hatch is opened early Wednesday morning around 12:40 a.m.
Vande Hei, Acaba and Misurkin will spend about five months on the ISS where they “will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the International Space Station, humanity’s only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory,” NASA officials said in a statement.
This is Vande Hei’s first mission to space after being selected as an astronaut in 2009. Acaba is NASA’s first Puerto Rican astronaut candidate and already has one space station expedition and one shuttle flight on his resume. Misurkin is also returning to the ISS for a second time.
The three new crewmembers are replacing three who just returned to Earth. NASA astronauts Jack Fisher and Peggy Whitson, along with Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, left the ISS on September 2.
Bresnik, Ryazanskiy, and Nespoli will remain at the ISS for a few more months.