The Soyuz MS-06 has successfully blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to deliver three new members of the ISS Expedition 53/54 to their orbital outpost.
The spacecraft carrying Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin as well as NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei lifted off at 21:17 GMT. It will take Soyuz MS-06 six hours to complete its flight to the ISS.
“Launch vehicle Soyuz-FG and manned spacecraft Soyuz МS-06 with the crew of the next long-duration expedition successfully lifted off from Gagarin’s Launch Pad of Baikonur space center,” Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said.
The Soyuz MS-06 launch comes shortly after the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft successfully landed in Kazakhstan, carrying three Expedition 52 members back to Earth.
The spaceship is scheduled to dock to the International Space Station at 10:57pm EDT, where the three new members will join Expedition 53 commander NASA’s Randy Bresnik, cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy and Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency. The new trio will spend five-and-a-half months aboard the station.
“Spacecraft Soyuz MS-06 will approach the ISS using a short six-hour rendezvous capability. The spacecraft will reach the station after about six hours and twenty minutes during the fifth orbit of its free flight,” Roscosmos explained, adding that the docking will be fully automatic.