NASA is preparing for another exciting launch to take a crew of astronauts and cosmonauts into space to board the International Space Station. The new crew will replace Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko, who both just recently returned to Earth after a long stay in space.
Boarding on a Soyuz spacecraft that will launch later today (Friday, March 18th), is NASA’s Jeff Williams, an experienced 58-year-old United States astronaut, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin.
Williams will spend six months on the International Space Station, where his total accumulated days in space are expected to reach 534, which will marginally dwarf Scott Kelly’s recently set record of 520 total days in space, which is currently the highest of any United States astronaut.
Notably, Scott Kelly won’t be racking up any more days in space, because he recently retired from his position as an astronaut for NASA following his return to planet Earth. Nevertheless, Kelly and his twin brother Mark will both still provide medical samples for NASA as needed to help with space research.
Despite breaking this record, Kelly will still hold the United States astronaut record for cumulative days in space. Kelly spent almost a year in space with about 340 days having been accumulated during his trip to see how long-term space travel would impact the human body.
Williams and the two Russian cosmonauts will blast off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at approximately 5:26 P.M. Eastern Time, heading to their destination aboard the International Space Station where they will be greeted by the other astronauts currently on board.
This will be Williams’ fourth time into space, and during his mission, he’ll continue to carry out experiments on board the International Space Station.
Citing Wired, some of the things Williams will be studying are how meteor impacts look from outer space, the effects of microgravity on soil, and testing a new 3D printer and new adhesive technology in outer space.