Two astronauts along with a cosmonaut have flown to the International Space Station to join the crew members that are already there in on the space station that orbits our Earth. A Soyuz spacecraft carrying the three crew members blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:21 a.m. EST (GMT-5; 1:21 p.m. local time) on December 17.

The spacecraft Soyuz MS-07, carrying vehicle commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos, NASA flight engineer Scott Tingle and Norishige Kana of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), flew up into the blue sky for a two-day journey towards the ISS. The crew members will reach the space station on Tuesday.

Among the crew members, Anton Shkaplerov is a cosmonaut while other two are astronauts. The Soyuz MS-07 rocket was launched directly into the plane of the space station’s orbit so that it could rendezvous with a target which moves at about 5 miles per second. After eight minutes and 45 seconds of the liftoff, the booster’s upper stage engine shut down, and the MS-07 vehicle, carrying the crew members, was released to fly on its own. When the three crew members reach the ISS, they will be greeted by Expedition 54 commander Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba, who are scheduled to return back to Earth in February.

NASA said that the three crew members are on a four-month mission to the ISS where they will carry out 200 scientific investigations. These investigations include improving the quality of fiber optics in a microgravity environment and also drug testing on mice which will further help astronauts maintain healthy bodies and also will prevent muscular breakdown from continued disuse. While Soyuz MS-07 is on its way to the space station, The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft arrived at the space station just after the Soyuz spacecraft blasted off. The Dragon cargo spaceship carried 4,800 pounds of ‘science-heavy’ supplies and space station equipment along with a U.S. spacesuit and some Christmas presents.

Tingle said, “The holidays are coming up, and I have some special gifts for my fellow crew members that will help us bring in Christmas and the New Year. And of course, we have Anton, our world-famous commander, (his) birthday is coming up in February. I can’t tell you what we’re going to do there because it’s a surprise!” When the Soyuz spacecraft lifted off, the onboard cameras showed crew members making thumbs-up gestures. Along with that, a stuffed dog toy chosen by Shkaplerov’s daughter was also visible which will act as an indicator of spacecraft’s zero gravity

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