Astronauts en route to space station after successful launch

Soyuz MS-09 Takes New Crew to the International Space Station (+Photo)

A trio of astronauts from Russian Federation, the United States and the European Space Agency blasted off Wednesday for a mission on the International Space Station.

With so much coverage given these days to unmanned rocket launches by the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin, you'd be forgiven for forgetting that we do actually continue to stick folks inside those super-powerful contraptions and send them into space. This crew will be comprised of Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos, Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency.

The U.S. space agency will launch Expedition 56 aboard a Soyuz MS-08 rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

The manned spacecraft subsequently entered the near-Earth orbit and started its autonomous flight to the orbital outpost, Russia's State Space Corporation Roscosmos told TASS.


The three astronauts will join Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos, who are now on the station. The three arriving astronauts will remain aboard until December. Once aboard the ISS, Expedition 56 (and 57) will "work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science".

Bridenstine also said his top two priorities were the resumption of human spaceflight from the USA -since 2011, American astronauts have relied on Russian transportation to get to the ISS-and going back to the Moon with the help of a new, nearby outpost that could ferry supplies there.

The impressive orbital research station has been in continuous usage by various crews on rotation since November 2000.

Blue Origin, on the other hand, is testing a system that it hopes will form the basis of a commercial space tourism service, though it also has ambitions far beyond that.

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