Journey into space: 2 Russians, 1 American on 4-month mission
Two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut soared into the orbit in a Soyuz spacecraft on Wednesday at the start of a two-day journey to the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA’s Shane Kimbrough and Andrei Borisenko and Sergei Ryzhikov of Roscosmos blasted off at 0805 GMT (1335 IST) from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, after their launch had been delayed by nearly one month because of technical issues.
The trio’s mission is expected to last just over four months with docking at the orbital laboratory taking place on Friday. They will join Roscosmos’ Anatoly Ivanishin, NASA’s Kate Rubins, and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), whose return to Earth is set for October 30.
The Russian Orthodox Church said it had provided the country’s space authorities with the relics of Seraphim of Sarov, a 18th-century saint, to be taken onboard the flight.
The local Church official who handed over the relics last month, Metropolitan Georgy, had called for the astronauts to receive “God’s help in this blessed and good work,” the Church said in a statement.
A few minutes after the launch, Roscosmos confirmed that it had been “successful” and that the three astronauts are scheduled to arrive at the space centre at 9:59 GMT (1529 IST) on Friday.
The 49-year-old Kimbrough, who logged less than 16 days in space during a single mission aboard the US space shuttle Endeavour, will command the expedition aboard the orbital laboratory.
“All systems go!! 24 hours and counting until Soyuz MC-02 Expedition 49/50 launch!” Kimbrough tweeted on Tuesday.