Joint Russian/U.S. Crew Leaves for Space Station


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The latest crew of the International Space Station left for orbit on a Russian Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:58 PM EDT today, for a six-hour flight, before docking to the Russian-made segment of the facility. One can watch the event in the clip posted by NASA Television below:

NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins joins Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy, to dock the Soyuz craft with the Poisk module, scheduled for 10:48 PM EDT. The crew is set to open the hatches at around 1 AM EDT, and will meet with three Expedition 37 crew members who have been living on the ISS since May. Said crew members are Commander Fyodor Yurchikin of Rosmosmos, Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg of NASA and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency. The new guys will stay aboard the station until mid-march, and Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano will come back to Earth on November 11.

According to NASA, the latest crew will pursue new investigations regarding human health and physiology in space. The long-term effects of a microgravity environment on the body will be examined - primarily how floating in space affects the immune system, and how the body changes shape, while in orbit. The crew is also set to conduct 11 investigations suggested by the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. These experiments will examine microgravity oxidation, antibacterial resistance, cellular division, hydroponics, seed germination, photosynthesis and cooking in a microgravity environment.

The International Space Station saw its first component put into orbit in 1998. It's become the largest man-made satellite, and can be seen from earth with the naked eye, under the right conditions. The station functions for the testing of spacecraft systems and equipment required for missions to the Moon and Mars, and since the arrival of the first occupants on November 2, 2000, it eventually came to represent the longest continuous human presence in space.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.