US, Russian crew dock at space station for five-month mission

Cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin during a send-off ceremony in the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday.
Cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin during a send-off ceremony in the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BAIKONUR (Kazakhstan) • Two United States astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut docked at the International Space Station (ISS) for a five-month mission yesterday following a night-time launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Russia's Roscosmos space agency said the Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft "successfully docked" at the ISS at 0255GMT (10.55am, Singapore time), in a statement on its website.

The Soyuz rocket carrying Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) first-time flier Mark Vande Hei and his veteran colleague Joe Acaba launched as scheduled from Baikonur at 5.17am, Singapore time.

The trio will now join Italy's Paolo Nespoli, Russia's Sergey Riazanski and the US' Randy Bresnik aboard the orbital lab.

The launch marked the first time two US astronauts have blasted off together on a mission to the ISS from Baikonur since June 2010.

Nasa stopped its own manned launches to the ISS in 2011, but recently moved to increase its crew aboard the ISS as the Russians cut theirs in a cost-saving measure announced last year.

Space is one of the few areas of international cooperation between Russia and the US that has not been wrecked by tensions over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

The ISS orbits the Earth at a height of about 400km, circling the planet every 90 minutes at a speed of about 28,160kmh.

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline 'US, Russian crew dock at space station for five-month mission'. Print Edition | Subscribe