Three new crew members aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft have begun a two-day journey to the International Space Station. The crew members are NASA astronaut Kate Rubins (who has a Ph.D. in cancer biology), veteran cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin (a former Russian Air Force pilot), and Japanese spaceflyer Takuya Onishi (who was a part of NASA’s 2011 research mission NEEMO 15).
According to Space.com, this is the first flight for the newly upgraded Soyuz, that launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on July 6, 2016.
Soyuz crews have previously reached the station within six hours, but the current crew will utilize a 34-orbit flight plan in order to give them time to check the spacecraft’s updated systems. The crew will reach the station on July 9th.
Speaking to CBS News before the launch, astronaut Rubins revealed her trust in her fellow crew members, saying, ‘I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to fly with these guys.’
You expect and you hope that everything goes according to plan, but if it doesn’t, these are the two guys you want to be with you in your spacecraft. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to fly with these guys.
Later, during NASA TV’s live broadcast of the launch, NASA spokesperson Brandi Dean said that the crew on board “are safely on orbit, making their way to the International Space Station after a picture-perfect launch.”
The crew on board the Soyuz MS-01 are safely on orbit … making their way to the International Space Station after a picture-perfect launch from a beautiful, clear day in Baikonur.
Ivanishin reported from the spacecraft after the launch, saying “We are feeling fine; everything is good on board.”
The crew will spend four months in space, and are set to help conduct 250 experiments during that time. They will join the astronauts already present at the space station, including the station’s commander, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin.