The International Space Station is going to feel a little cozy for the next two weeks, as three crew members lifted off Wednesday to join the other three members of Expedition 49. The Soyuz MS-02 lifted off at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, taking Roscosmos cosmonaut’s Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, and NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough on a two day voyage to the station.
The trio are expected to dock to the station’s Poisk module on Friday, kickstarting a four month stint where they will undertake hundreds of experiments in biology, Earth science and biotechnology. Hours after they arrive on Friday, the hatch will open, and the three currently on board will greet the new arrivals. Although initially expected to take off on September 29, a technical fault with the Soyuz led to a delay. That was eventually repaired by Roscosmos.
On October 29, the other three members of Expedition 49 are expected to leave the station. They are Kate Rubins of NASA, Anatoli Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Takuya Onishi of JAXA. Their work has been vital in bringing the ISS into the future: Rubins helped install a new dock to the station in August that will help private companies like SpaceX and Blue Dragon visit without government agency help.
The first three members have been on the station since July 9, where there was a similar crossover point between another three crew members.
Expedition 50, carrying NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy from Roscosmos and the ESA’s Thomas Pesquet, is scheduled for takeoff from the same location on November 16 towards the space station, replacing the crew that left on October 29.