A Soyuz spacecraft with three crew members on board has blasted off and is on its way to the International Space Station, NASA said. The three crew members – Peggy Whitson of NASA, Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) – represent the US, Russia and France.
The Soyuz spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday, NASA said. The new crew members will join the Expedition 50 Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko.
Whitson, in February, will become the first woman to command the space station twice. She became the first woman to hold the commander post in 2007 during her first tenure.
The Expedition 50 crew members will be there at ISS for more than four months. They will conduct over 250 science investigations in fields like biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.
The research that would next be carried out includes the impact of lighting on overall health and well-being of crew members and how tissue regeneration in humans get affected by the micro-gravity. The genetic properties of space-grown plants will also be studied.
Three cargo craft will deliver several tonnes of food, fuel, supplies and research to the crew members at the space station. Also, new lithium ion batteries will be replaced by the nickel-hydrogen batteries currently used on the station to store electrical energy generated by the station’s solar arrays.
NASA said that these will be installed during series of spacewalks that will take place in January.