Soyuz spacecraft with three NASA astronauts blasts off to ISS

A Soyuz spacecraft with three crew members blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday, 18 November 2016. The international team comprises of one each of the US, Russia, and France, and they are all traveling aboard the Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS, the farthest outpost of humankind.

The crew members are Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, Peggy Whitson of NASA, and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) and will be joining cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko along with Shane Kimbrough of NASA who is the commander of Expedition 50. In February, Peggy will become the first woman to command the ISS twice. Earlier in 2007 she became the first female commanding officer of the ISS.

The Expedition of 50 crew members will be on the space station which also serves as a laboratory and will conduct more than 250 science experiments about different fields like Biology, Earth Science, human research, physics, and technology. Research on Biology will include the effects of lights on the overall health and the good being of the crew members. Also, experiments will be conducted for ascertaining the effects of microgravity on tissue regeneration and also the genetic properties of space-grown vegetables.

There will be three cargo craft which will be delivering several tons of food, fuel, supplies and research equipment. Also on board will be new lithium ion batteries which will be replacing the nickel hydrogen batteries which stores the electric energy produced by the station’s massive solar arrays. The new batteries will be deployed in a series of spacewalks which will be done by the crew members in January.

The Soyuz MS -03 spaceships was carried aloft the Soyuz-FG rocket booster which blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan which has been leased by Russia and earlier by the erstwhile Soviet Union.

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