American and Russian arrive at International Space Station

Apr 22, 2017, 01:43
American and Russian arrive at International Space Station

Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and American astronaut Jack Fischer successfully took off on board the Soyuz MS-04 rocket from Kazakhstan, starting their journey towards the International Space Station (ISS).

Aboard the Soyuz spacecraft is veteran cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikin of Roscosmos and rookie flight engineer Jack Fischer.

They reached orbit nine minutes later.

On that day, Whitson - the first woman to command the ISS, the oldest woman in space at age 57, and the record-holder for the most spacewalks by a female - will have logged 535 days in space or longer than any other American astronaut.

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Roscosmos also unveiled the emblem for expedition 51, which Yurchikhin said was inspired by the US' second moon mission, Apollo-12.

Yurchikhin, making his fifth space flight, and Fischer, who is there for the first time, talked to family and friends at the Baikonur facility who were watching the launch there. She returns to Earth in September. The spacecraft has an upgraded navigation system, new communications system and a modernised docking system.

But Russia is scaling back its staff on the ISS until a long-delayed space laboratory is sent to the outpost in 2018.

Four orbits after launch, at 9:18 a.m., the spacecraft completed an automated sequence of rendezvous rocket firings and successfully docked at the station's upper Poisk module.

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Russian space agency Roscosmos said the launch had been successful and that the crew was expected to arrive at the ISS at 1323 GMT.

They join the Expedition 51 crew, which is conducting science investigations - including one that could increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs and one that could help grow fresh food in space.

"The Apollo-Soyuz flight was a significant milestone in the relationship of the two countries", said Yurchikhin.

Like the almost 50-year-old patch, the Soyuz MS-04 badge features a classic sailing ship trailing a stream of stars.

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Expedition 51 astronauts Thomas Pesquet of ESA and Peggy Whitson of NASA will use the space station's Canadian-built robotic arm to grapple Cygnus, about 6:05 a.m. Saturday.

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