A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying two cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) today (Sept. 15), roughly three hours after lifting off.
The Soyuz, called MS-24, docked with the orbiting lab today at 2:53 p.m. EDT (1853 GMT), while the two craft were flying 260 miles (418 kilometers) above eastern Kazakhstan.
That was just 3 hours and 9 minutes after Soyuz MS-24 lifted off from the Russia-run Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan — a very quick trip to the ISS, but not quite a record-breaking one.
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Soyuz MS-24 is carrying NASA’s Loral O’Hara and Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub, both of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.
About two hours later, the hatches between the Soyuz and the ISS opened, and the three spaceflyers floated aboard the orbiting lab.
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O’Hara, Kononenko and Chub are joining seven other spaceflyers on board the orbiting lab. The two cosmonauts have embarked on a year-long ISS mission, while O’Hara will come home in six months.
O’Hara and Chub are spaceflight rookies, but Kononenko is very experienced. The cosmonaut had already accrued 736 days in orbit across four different ISS missions before today’s launch. During his yearlong stint, Kononenko will break the all-time record for most time in space, 878 days, held by fellow cosmonaut Gennady Padalka.
MS-24’s arrival also sets the wheels in motion for an ISS departure. On Sept. 27, a Soyuz carrying cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin and NASA’s Frank Rubio is scheduled to come back to Earth. Rubio will have spent 371 continuous days in space by that time, a record for an American astronaut.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 5:30 p.m. ET with news of the hatch opening between the Soyuz and the ISS.