Washington, June 6 (IANS) A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying three astronauts blasted off from Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan on Wednesday for a two-day journey to the International Space Station.
The three astronauts — NASA’s Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Sergey Prokopyev of Russian space agency Roscosmos — are now safely in orbit, NASA said in a blog post.
“And we have lift off! Expedition 56-57 is on its way to the @Space_Station. Godspeed to @AstroSerena, Sergey Prokopyev and @Astro_Alex!” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted soon after the launch.
The crew will orbit Earth 34 times before the spacecraft’s arrival and docking to the space station’s Rassvet module at 9.07 am on June 8.
The arrival of the new crew will restore the station to six crew members.
They will join Expedition 56 commander Drew Feustel and flight engineers Ricky Arnold of NASA and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos.
The crew will spend more than five months conducting about 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.
This crew continues the long-term increase in crew size on the US segment from three to four, allowing NASA to maximise time dedicated to research on the space station.