Three Expedition 50 astronauts have been launched to the International Space Station

The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft blasting off atop a Soyuz Rocket (Photo NASA/Bill Ingalls)
The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft blasting off atop a Soyuz Rocket (Photo NASA/Bill Ingalls)

It was night in Kazakhstan when the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying three new crew members to be transported to the International Space Station. It’s the third new version Soyuz spacecraft and was launched once again in the route that will take two days instead of the six-hourt fast path to keep on testing the new on-board systems.

The three new members of the International Space Station crew, who complete the Expedition 50, are:

Peggy Annette Whitson. Born on February 9, 1960 in Mount Ayr, Iowa, in the USA, she earned a degree in biology and chemistry at Iowa Wesleyan College in 1981 and earned a doctorate in biochemistry from Rice University in 1985. After working at Rice for a while, she started working at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and in the ’90s conducted research and was a professor at some universities. In 1992 she entered the scientific staff of the Shuttle-Mir program and in 1996 was selected as an astronaut candidate. In June 2003, she commanded the submarine expedition NEEMO 5 in the Aquarius lab, which lasted 14 days. She’s a space missions veteran and of the International Space Station having already been part of the crew of Expedition 5 between June and December 2002 and of the Expedition 16 between October 2007 and April 2008. She has already carried out 5 spacewalks.

Oleg Viktorovich Novitskiy. Born on October 12, 1971 at Cervien, in the then USSR and today in Belarus, he graduated from Kachinskoye Military Pilot School in 1994. After serving as a Russian Air Force pilot, in 2006 he was selected as a cosmonaut candidate. He’s already been on the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 33/34 between October 2012 and March 2013.

Thomas Pesquet. Born onFebruary 27, 1978 in Rouen, France, he has a master’s degree at the École nationale supérieure de l’aéronautique et de l’espace in Toulouse, with a major in space systems and space vehicle mechanics. He has obtained a license as an airline pilot at the flight school Air France. In 2002 he started working as an engineer at the French space agency CNES. In 2009 he was selected as an ESA astronaut. This is his first space mission, which was called “Proxima”.

The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft is now on its way to the International Space Station. Its arrival is scheduled for Saturday, around 22 UTC.

Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet in front of the Soyuz rocket (Photo NASA)
Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet in front of the Soyuz rocket (Photo NASA)

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