Home International Multinational crew blasts off for space station (Photo Feature)

Multinational crew blasts off for space station (Photo Feature)

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The Soyuz MS spacecraft carrying the crew of Kate Rubins of the U.S., Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia and Takuya Onishi of Japan blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

Russia, July 7, 2016: A three-member multinational crew blasted off aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan on Thursday for a two-day trip to the International Space Station, a NASA TV broadcast showed.

NASA astronaut Kathleen “Kate” Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 0136 GMT on Thursday (9:36p.m. EDT Wednesday) and reached orbit nine minutes later.

“We wish you good luck,” a Russian flight controller radioed to the crew, an interpreter said.

The crew’s Russian Soyuz capsule is scheduled to arrive at the station, which orbits about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, at 0412 GMT Saturday (12:12 a.m. EDT) to begin a four-month mission.

“I’m incredibly excited about a lot of the biology experiments we’re going to be doing,” Rubins, 37, said in a NASA interview before launch.

Rubins, a cancer and infectious diseases researcher, plans to attempt the first DNA sequencing in orbit.

She, Ivanishin, 47, and Onishi, 41, will join NASA astronaut and station commander Jeff Williams and two Russian cosmonauts who have been aboard the orbital outpost since March.

Ivanishin has made one previous flight to the station. Rubins and Onishi are both rookie astronauts.

Thursday’s launch marked the debut flight of a next-generation Russian Soyuz capsule, currently the only vehicles capable of ferrying crew members to and from the station, a $100 billion project of 15 nations.

Upgrades to the Soyuz include better shielding to protect the spacecraft from micrometeoroid and orbital debris impacts, additional batteries, improved communications and tracking equipment, new steering thrusters, larger solar arrays, an improved rendezvous and docking system and a GPS-equipped landing system.

NASA hopes to resume flying station crew members from the United States in 2018 aboard capsules under development by Boeing Co and privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX.

A docking system that the new commercial U.S. spaceships will need to park at the station is scheduled to be launched aboard a SpaceX cargo ship on July 18.

The Soyuz MS spacecraft carrying the crew of Kate Rubins of the U.S., Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia and Takuya Onishi of Japan blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
The Soyuz MS spacecraft carrying the crew of Kate Rubins of the U.S., Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia and Takuya Onishi of Japan blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

 

The Soyuz MS spacecraft carrying the crew of Kate Rubins of the U.S., Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia and Takuya Onishi of Japan blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
The Soyuz MS spacecraft carrying the crew of Kate Rubins of the U.S., Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia and Takuya Onishi of Japan blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

 

The Soyuz MS spacecraft carrying the crew of Kate Rubins of the U.S., Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia and Takuya Onishi of Japan blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
The Soyuz MS spacecraft carrying the crew of Kate Rubins of the U.S., Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia and Takuya Onishi of Japan blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

 

The Soyuz MS spacecraft carrying the crew of Kate Rubins of the U.S., Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia and Takuya Onishi of Japan blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
The Soyuz MS spacecraft carrying the crew of Kate Rubins of the U.S., Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia and Takuya Onishi of Japan blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

 

The International Space Station (ISS) crew member Kate Rubins of the U.S. gives thumb up after donning space suits at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
The International Space Station (ISS) crew member Kate Rubins of the U.S. gives thumb up after donning space suits at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

 

The International Space Station (ISS) crew members (L to R) Kate Rubins of the U.S., Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia and Takuya Onishi of Japan walk after donning space suits at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
The International Space Station (ISS) crew members (L to R) Kate Rubins of the U.S., Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia and Takuya Onishi of Japan walk after donning space suits at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

 

The Soyuz MS spacecraft carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, prior the launch at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Dmitri Lovertsky/POOL
The Soyuz MS spacecraft carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, prior the launch at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Dmitri Lovertsky/POOL

 

The International Space Station (ISS) crew member Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia looks on during his space suit check at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
The International Space Station (ISS) crew member Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia looks on during his space suit check at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

 

The International Space Station (ISS) crew member Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia walks to the rocket prior the launch at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Dmitri Lovertsky/POOL?
The International Space Station (ISS) crew member Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia walks to the rocket prior the launch at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Dmitri Lovertsky/POOL?

 

The International Space Station (ISS) crew member Takuya Onishi of Japan gestures close to the rocket prior the launch at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Dmitri Lovertsky/POOL
The International Space Station (ISS) crew member Takuya Onishi of Japan gestures close to the rocket prior the launch at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Dmitri Lovertsky/POOL

 

Policemen ride an armoured vehicle in front of the Soyuz MS spacecraft shortly before its launch with the International Space Station (ISS) crew of Kate Rubins of the U.S., Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia and Takuya Onishi of Japan at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
Policemen ride an armoured vehicle in front of the Soyuz MS spacecraft shortly before its launch with the International Space Station (ISS) crew of Kate Rubins of the U.S., Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia and Takuya Onishi of Japan at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov