Oleg Kononenko, Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui are just over three hours into their six-hour trip to the International Space Station. The Soyuz TMA-17M carrying the trio successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:02 p.m. ET.
Check out the launch video below.
Kononenko, Lindgren and Yui will officially begin their five-month stay aboard the International Space Station when they dock tonight at 10:46 p.m. ET. NASA TV will provide live coverage starting at 10 p.m. ET.
The trio’s arrival to the ISS brings the station’s complement back to six. Current ISS crewmembers Gennady Padalka, Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko went a bit longer than usual as the sole three crewmembers aboard the ISS. The last time the space station had six crewmembers was back on June 10.
Tonight’s launch is seen as vital step for the Russian Federal Space Agency. A botched launch of a Progress spacecraft in May delayed their launch schedule until an investigation could be completed. Russian investigators determined the issue only affected that particular rocket and would not impact crew flights. Tonight’s successful launch reinforces that finding.
The Soyuz carrying the new crew is also bringing research items with them. Some of the research will focus on the ISS crew themselves. They include questionnaires that will be used to gather data on crew ranging from day-to-day health to Space Headaches. These headaches are common in spaceflight. NASA wants to better understand them and design methods to help treat the symptoms.
One of the biggest experiments onboard the ISS is the One-Year mission Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are participating in. How the human body reacts to a prolonged period in space is a vital question researchers need to understand better. NASA’s ultimate goal is Mars. But, getting there and back is going to take a long time. Figuring out how the body reacts in space long-term is a must.
Here’s a YouTube playlist that dives into detail on what researchers are studying during the One-Year mission.
Be sure to check out NASA TV if you want to watch tonight’s docking as it happens.
Image credit: NASA