The Expedition 65 crew members boarded the International Space Station (ISS) Friday morning.
Traveling aboard the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov blasted off from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan at 3:42 a.m. ET.
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After a two-orbit journey that spanned for more than three hours, the hatches between the ISS and the Soyuz opened at 9:20 a.m. ET, flying above the South Pacific.
The launch came just three days before the 60th anniversary of the first human flight to space by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and the 40th anniversary of the first launch of NASA’s space shuttle.
According to Space.com, the Soyuz MS-18 — named for Gagarin — is Russia’s 64th Soyuz spacecraft to launch for the ISS since 2000 and the 147th to fly since 1967.
While it’s Novitskiy’s third space mission and Vande Hei’s second, Dubrov is on his first mission.
Vande Hei, Dubrov and Novitsky will stay aboard the space station through at least October, though Vande Hei’s stay may be extended to a year.
While on board, the trio will work on hundreds of scientific experiments across various fields — in addition to spacewalks — and Dubrov will become the 243rd person to visit the unique microgravity laboratory, according to a NASA blog post.