New Crew Blasts Off to Join Station on Friday

The Soyuz Rocket Launches
The Soyuz MS-08 rocket launches on time with three new Expedition 55-56 crew members heading to their new home in space: Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz MS-08 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 1:44 p.m. EDT (11:44 p.m. Kazakhstan time). NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos are safely in orbit on their way to the International Space Station.

The trio will orbit Earth for approximately two days before docking to the space station’s Poisk module at 3:41 p.m. Friday, March 23. Coverage of docking will begin at 3 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website, followed at 5 p.m. by coverage of the opening of hatches between the spacecraft and station.

The arrival Friday of Feustel, Arnold and Artemyev will restore the station’s crew complement to six as they join Scott Tingle of NASA, Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The crew members will spend more than five months conducting about 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

This crew continues the long-term increase in crew size on the U.S. segment from three to four, allowing NASA to maximize time dedicated to research on the space station. Highlights of upcoming investigations include: a new facility to test materials, coatings and components of other large experiments in the harsh environment of space; a study on the effects of microgravity on bone marrow and blood cells produced in bone marrow; and a newly-developed passive nutrient delivery system for the Veggie plant growth facility.

Arnold, a former educator, will continue NASA’s Year of Education on Station, an initiative to engage students and educators in human spaceflight and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

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