MOSCOW (NewsNation Now) — Three astronauts, one from the U.S. and two from Russia, successfully launched aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station early Wednesday.
NASA astronaut Kate Rubins joined Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos for the lift-off at around 1:45 a.m. EDT. The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft launched from the Russia-leased Baikonur facility in Kazakhstan, and the astronauts will carry out a six-month stint on the station.
Rubins could be the last NASA astronaut to fly on a Russian Soyuz rocket. It’s NASA’s last-scheduled mission, and the agency said it doesn’t plan to purchase any more since it gained access to space with SpaceX.
The October launch is also the first time using a fast-track maneuver to try to reach the orbiting outpost in just three hours. It has taken twice as long for crews to reach the station in the past.
The trio will join the station’s NASA commander, Chris Cassidy, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who have been aboard the complex since April. They’re scheduled to return to Earth a week later.
Rubins said the crew spent weeks in quarantine at the Star City training facility outside Moscow and on Baikonur to avoid spread of coronavirus.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.