Three Expedition-46 astronauts on way to ISS

Washington, Dec 15 (IANS) A new Soyuz rocket successfully sent three Expedition-46 astronauts on the six-hour trip to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan on Tuesday.

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, Yuri Malenchenko from the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Tim Peake of the European Space Agency (ESA) will meet the other three Expedition-46 astronauts aboard the ISS to participate in Earth observations and conduct key research to advance knowledge and demonstrate new technologies.

The crew will work in space for the next six months on advanced science benefitting life on the Earth and future crew in space.

The other three astronauts currently living on the orbiting international space laboratory are commander Scott Kelly and cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov.

Malenchenko is the most experienced member of the new group with 641 days in space. He has embarked on his fourth space station mission.

He also lived on Russia’s last space station Mir and flew aboard space shuttle Atlantis.

This will be Kopra’s second station residency, having spent 58 days in space as an Expedition-20 flight engineer.

Peake will be Britain’s first astronaut to go to the International Space Station (ISS) and this will be his first mission.

Last week, three crew members from the ISS returned to the Earth.

Expedition-45 flight engineers Kjell Lindgren from NASA, Oleg Kononenko from Roscosmos and Kimiya Yui from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) touched down in the northeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

The landing wrapped up a space mission that lasted 141 days and returned samples from several NASA human research experiments aboard the station.

It was the first time a crew has landed after sunset and only the sixth night-time Soyuz return from the international space station. Soviet-time and now Russian probes have always landed on ground and not in oceans.

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