One American, two Russians blast off to International Space Station

Pablo Tucker
October 14, 2020

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NASA astronaut Kate Rubins boarded a Russian Soyuz rocket for the fastest ever trip to the International Space Station on Wednesday, her 42nd birthday, which also marked what NBC News calls "the end of an era".

For the first time, they are trying a two-orbit, three-hour approach to the orbiting outpost.

There are now six crew members staffing the ISS, including cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, as well as NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy who were already on the station.

When the Soyuz hatch opened at 7:07 a.m. EDT, Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov joined NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Ivan Vagner, Anatoly Ivanishin onboard the space station.

Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov pose during a press conference.

The NASA duo returned safely on August 2 and a fresh SpaceX launch, this time anticipating a full-length half-year mission at the space station, is expected next month. Space Station Commander Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner have been aboard the complex since April and are scheduled to return to Earth in a week.

A NASA TV commentator said everything was normal, citing communications between Russian mission control and the crew, while Roscosmos said the capsule had successfully gone into orbit.

The launch is sandwiched between two SpaceX launches - the first manned spaceflights to the ISS under NASA's aegis since 2011.

Since the space shuttle program ended in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian Federation to ferry its astronauts to the space station, an orbiting laboratory 250 miles (400 km) above Earth that has housed worldwide crews of astronauts continuously for almost 20 years.

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