This afternoon, a new crew of three astronauts will embark on a flight to the International Space Station, bringing the total number of crew in the orbiting lab to its standard size of six. Two American astronauts, Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel, and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev will make the trip, taking off on a Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan on the first crew flight of 2018. All three are veterans of space flights and will remain aboard the ISS. for approximately five months.
The trio is scheduled to take off today at 1:44 PM ET
The trio is scheduled to take off today at 1:44 PM ET. Once in space, they will spend about two days in orbit, slowly approaching the space station and docking around 3:41 PM ET on Friday. There, they will be received by the three crew members already aboard the ISS: Scott Tingle of NASA, Norishige Kanai of the Aerospace Exploration Agency of Japan and cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, who is the current commander of the station.
That means the United States will continue to have four crew members on board (Kanai is one of NASA's international partner astronauts), above the typical three. NASA has maintained a larger crew than usual since Russia recently reduced the number of cosmonauts it sends to the ISS to two.
NASA's launch coverage is scheduled to begin at 12:45 PM ET. Check later to see the live takeoff.