NASA Astronaut and Two Russian Cosmonauts Arrive Safely at International Space Station

Soyuz MS-18 Rocket Expedition 65

The Soyuz MS-18 rocket is launched with Expedition 65 NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, Roscosmos cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitskiy, Friday, April 9, 2021, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and two Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station Friday, bringing its number of residents to 10 for the coming week.

The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft carrying Vande Hei and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos docked to the station’s Rassvet module at 7:05 a.m. EDT. Docking occurred two orbits and about three hours after a 3:42 a.m. launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Vande Hei, Novitskiy, and Dubrov will join the Expedition 64 crew when hatches open about 9 a.m. Expedition 65, with NASA astronaut Shannon Walker as commander, will begin Friday, April 16, upon the departure of NASA’s Kate Rubins, Roscosmos’ Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, and departing station commander Sergey Ryzhikov. The trio will land in Kazakhstan following a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory.

The change of command ceremony with all crew members is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. Thursday, April 15, and will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

This marks the second spaceflight for Vande Hei, the third for Novitskiy, and the first for Dubrov. During a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, the trio will work on science and research in technology development, Earth science, biology, human research, and more.

During Expedition 65, the arrival of Crew-2 aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon will bring four more members to the International Space Station. Crew-2 is currently scheduled for launch on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22. Crew-1, the first long-duration commercial crew mission, will return to Earth on April 28.

In November 2020, the International Space Station surpassed its 20-year milestone of continuous human presence, providing opportunities for unique technological demonstrations and research that help prepare for long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars while also improving life on Earth. To date, 243 people from 19 countries have visited the orbiting laboratory that has hosted nearly 3,000 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.

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