The new crew will spend six months aboard the ISS.
The Russian spacecraft, launched earlier in the day from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carried a crew of three, namely two Roscosmos astronauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov, and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, the Roscosmos reported.More news: Vaccine reserve was already exhausted when Trump administration vowed to release it
The team that just arrived will take over the ISS from the Expedition 63 astronauts, Cassidy, Anatoli Ivanishin, and Ivan Vagner, who are due to leave the Station later this month.
"Butch will be able to step in seamlessly, and his previous experience on both space shuttle and space station missions make him a valuable addition to this flight", said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. NASA described the purchase as an insurance policy of sorts, ensuring "the agency keeps its commitment for safe operations via a continuous US presence" as commercial crew vehicles finally enter service. He now will shift his focus specifically to the spacecraft commander's duties in preparation for the flight to the space station. The hatches between the capsule and the station opened at 7:07 AM EDT, officially beginning the operational duty roster stint for the three new ISS crew members.
The Russian space program has endured a progression of switches lately, most prominently the disappointment of a Soyuz rocket in 2018 only minutes after take off - the primary such episode throughout the entire existence of post-Soviet space travel. In the meantime, NASA continued to purchase Russian Soyuz seats for American astronauts.More news: Samsung betting big on robots with CES 2021 presentation
Soyuz is scheduled to take off from the Baikonur Cosmo Drom in Kazakhstan at 1:45 AM on Wednesday.
For the first time, they tried a two-orbit approach and docked with the space station in just a little over three hours after lift-off.
A NASA TV commentator said everything was normal, citing communications between Russian mission control and the crew, while Roscosmos said the capsule had successfully gone into orbit. However, NASA has not yet announced such a deal, so it is unclear when the next American astronauts will fly aboard the Soyuz after performing this mission.More news: CoV-2 infects CNS and damages brain tissue, study shows
NASA's release coverage begins at 12:45 AM EST, so if you wake up late (or early), watch the Soyuz launch live.