Tuesday morning, three astronauts, known to those familiar with the matter as Expedition 46, blasted off from the Earth’s grounds at the Baikonur Cosmodome in Kazakhstan via a rocket carrying a Russian Soyuz spacecraft en route to the International Space Station. Among them are NASA’s Tim Kopra, Roscosmos’ Yuri Malenchenko, and ESA’s Tim Peake.
The three space men will be joining the existing Expedition aboard the International Space station, which involves NASA’s Scott Kelly, Roscosmos’ Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov. There, they’ll continue space research to advance human understanding of space, microgravity, and our solar system.
It’s especially a big day for Tim Peake of the European Space Agency, because this is the first time that a British astronaut has ever visited the International Space Station and is the first time in 24 years that a British astronaut has launched off of Earth’s floors to visit space – the last being Helen Sharman, who has recently been talking frequently to the Royal Institution about her experiences in space.
Peake will be returning to Earth after six months, a period during which he will conduct well over 200 experiments in space.
The spacecraft mated with the International Space Station about nine minutes behind schedule on Tuesday in the afternoon, but everything appears to be going well and according to plan.
You can watch the rocket blasting off with the three astronauts of Expedition 46 on board in the video below:
More details about the hatch opening and welcome ceremony of the astronauts aboard the International Space Station will be available as the ordeal unravels over the course of the next couple of hours. You can tune into NASA’s Web site to watch the live stream.