Russian Federation launches Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft with int'l crew to ISS

  • Russian Federation launches Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft with int'l crew to ISS

Russian Federation launches Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft with int'l crew to ISS

Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft is scheduled to blast off Wednesday morning with its three-member crew to begin what is billed as Expeditions 56-57 at the International Space Station.

The manned Soyuz spacecraft will be performing its autonomous flight using a two-day scheme. Eighty percent say the International Space Station has been a good investment for the country.

Liftoff took place 4:12 p.m. local time (7:12 a.m. EDT / 11:12 GMT) atop the approximately 161-foot (49.5-meter) tall Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrone in Kazakhstan.

NASA TV will feature live streaming coverage of the docking process, as well as the hatch opening and welcoming process, beginning at 8:15 a.m. Friday.

The ISS crew spent a staggering 168 days in orbit, circling the Earth 2,688 times and covering a distance of 71.2 million miles.

The three astronauts returned safely to Earth on June 3 in a parachute-assisted landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan.

When asked to rate the importance of nine specific missions found in NASA's diverse portfolio, majorities say monitoring key parts of the Earth's climate system or monitoring asteroids and other objects that could hit Earth should be top priorities for NASA (63% and 62% respectively).

While at the ISS, the crew will continue working on experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.

The capsule has already made several trips to and from the space station, taking supplies and other cargo. Gerst is the only astronaut of the mission that had participated in a space mission in 2014.

A majority of Americans say NASA should remain a global leader in space exploration, but a recent Pew Research study looking at the public's perception of the US space program find support for a human mission to the moon or Mars is low.