Soyuz space capsule carrying American, Russian blasts off

These photos chronicle the activities of Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronaut Jack Fischer on Thursday as they prepared for liftoff on a Soyuz rocket to begin an expedition of more than four months on the International Space Station.

The two men aboard the spacecraft are Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) astronaut Jack Fischer.

On Monday, Station commander Peggy Whitson is due to beat the 534-day record for cumulative time spent in space by a United States astronaut.

US President Donald Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump are expected to congratulate Whitson on her achievement in an Earth-to space call on Monday, according to NASA.

Like Malenchenko and Lu, who returned with a third crew member (ESA's Pedro Duque), Fischer and Yurchikhin are slated to land in September with their empty seat filled.

Yurchikhin, Whitson and Fischer will have the station to themselves until July 28 when the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft shows up carrying three spaceflight veterans: vehicle commander Sergey Ryazanskiy, Randy Bresnik and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli.

It was in April 2003 when a two-person crew last lifted off for the ISS.

2 new crew members have boarded the International Space Station, bringing the orbiting lab's total staff count to 5.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is teaming with NASA and the White House to recognize Dr. Whitson's impressive achievements and provide videos, podcasts, and other materials that can help your students' growth in STEM.

While Expedition 16 was still under development, Peggy first took command over the International Space Station. About two hours later, hatches between the Soyuz capsule and station opened.Fischer, on his first space voyage, and Yurchikhin floated into the waiting arms of station commander Peggy Whitson and her crew.

The US astronaut and 58-year-old Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin are joining the crew of the ISS.

Fischer and Yurchikhin reached the $US100 billion space station, which orbits about 400 km above Earth, arrived on schedule at 10:18pm (AEST).

Two days later, a Cygnus cargo ship is scheduled to arrive at the space station, particularly to supply the facility's laboratory.

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