NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and two Russian cosmonauts arrived Thursday for their mission aboard the International Space Station, temporarily restoring the orbiting laboratory’s population to six people.
The Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft carrying Cassidy, along with Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, docked to the station’s Poisk service module at 10:13 a.m. after a four-orbit, six-hour flight. ThebSoyuz spacecraft launched at 4:05 a.m. EDT (1:05 p.m. Kazakhstan time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Cassidy will become Expedition 63 commander upon the departure of Skripochka, Morgan and Meir, who will return to Earth on Friday, April 17, on the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft, which will land in Kazakhstan.
Welcome to the @Space_Station! Chris Cassidy of @NASA_Astronauts and Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos join the Expediton 63 crew aboard the orbiting laboratory.
A recap of today’s launch and a preview of Cassidy’s mission: https://t.co/YZeUMdT0iW pic.twitter.com/0D1sSapGMz
— NASA (@NASA) April 9, 2020
It is the third spaceflight for Cassidy and Ivanishin and the first for Vagner, who are scheduled to return to Earth in October after a mission of more than six months during which they will conduct about 160 science investigations in fields such as, biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences, and technology development.
Work on the unique microgravity laboratory advances scientific knowledge and demonstrates new technologies, making research breakthroughs that will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars.
For almost 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. As a global endeavour, 239 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 2,800 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries.
Image: Twitter/ @NASA