American, Russian arrive at International Space Station


The Soyuz space capsule blasted off this morning for the International Space Station (ISS), carrying an American astronaut making his first space flight and a veteran Russian cosmonaut.

For Yurchikhin, this marks his fifth launch to space, having logged a total of 537 days on one space shuttle mission in 2002 and three long-duration missions on the International Space Station in 2007, 2010 and 2013.

During Expeditions 51 and 52, Fischer and Yurchikhin will help with hundreds of experiments and oversee the arrival and departure of Russian and US visiting vehicles - the first of which, Orbital ATK's S.S. John Glenn Cygnus cargo freighter, is set to berth at the space station on Saturday (April 22).

It carries an American astronaut making his first space flight and a veteran Russian cosmonaut.

Yurchikhin is a 58-year-old father of two who holds a Ph.D.in economics.

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Novitskiy and Pesquet will remain aboard the station until early June. Another new investigation bound for the U.S. National Laboratory will look at using magnetized cells and tools to make it easier to handle cells and cultures, and improve the reproducibility of experiments.

Soyuz crewmate Yurchikhin has made four previous spaceflights.

Fischer and Yurchikhin were scheduled to reach the $100 billion space station, which orbits about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, at 9:23 a.m. EDT.

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When she returns to Earth with Yurchikhin and Fischer on September 3, she will have logged 666 days in space during three missions, moving her up to eighth in the world, one spot behind Yurchikhin, who will have logged 672 days aloft over his five missions. Already the most experienced female spacewalker, Whitson will become NASA's most experienced astronaut around 1:27 a.m. Monday, passing the previous USA mark for cumulative time in space of 534 days two hours and 48 minutes.