Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft has arrived at the International Space Station, carrying a European, a Russian and an American astronaut for a four-month mission at the orbiting outpost. “Capture confirmed,” said a NASA commentator as the spacecraft docked at the ISS at 4:58 PM (local time), live US space agency television images showed on Friday.
The trio – including Frenchman Thomas Pesquet, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and American astronaut Peggy Whitson — launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday. Pesquet, a rookie astronaut and amateur saxophone player, is the first French national to be sent to the ISS by the European Space Agency since 2008.
Whitson, meanwhile is an experienced veteran and biochemistry expert who will break records with this space mission, including the title of the most days in space by a US astronaut. Whitson is scheduled to surpass NASA astronaut Jeff Williams’ 534 days on April 24.
In February, Whitson, 56, will become the first woman to command the space station twice. She previously commanded the station in 2007, when she became the first woman to hold this post, NASA said.