A new crew has reached the International Space Station on Friday for a five-month mission.
NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazansky and Italian Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency took off in the Soyuz craft from Kazhakstan’s Baikonur cosmodrome, Phys.org reports.
After orbiting the Earth four times in six hours, the Soyuz docked at the space station. Pressurization and leak checks were carried out, before the hatches opened to admit the men, according to NASA.
The arrival of the three crew members means the ISS is back to its full capacity of six people for the first time since April, after Russia cut back on its number of cosmonauts to just two. NASA responded by adding to their number of astronauts who will be operating in their half of the station.
Four astronauts, Peggy Whitson, Jack Fischer, Bresnik and Nespoli, will be working on the NASA part of the station, while Ryazansky will be joining Fyodor Yurchikhin in manning the Russian area.
In a press conference before the launch, Bresnik said that the extra crew member will help conduct experiments and carry out repairs. He said,
There is a ton of science to do.
This is Bresnik’s second flight. He praised his companions already on the station, saying, “They’ve really got their groove on. They are working very, very well. They have good technique and tempo.”
For Ryazansky, 42, this is his third round aboard the ISS. He took with him a small gnome in tribute to a song his family loves.
Nespoli, 60, is the most experienced with 174 days logged in space. He is now the oldest astronaut onboard the station, edging out Yurchikhin, 59 and Whitson, 57.
The ISS space lab has been orbiting the Earth at around 28,000 kilometers (17,000 miles) per hour since 1998. It is one of the few areas of international cooperation, especially between the USA and Russia.