The Soyuz MS-17 mission took off today, which saw three astronauts launched up to the International Space Station (ISS) for a six-month mission.
The launch of the Soyuz 1.2a rocket occurred at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 05:45:04 UTC (01:45:04 EDT) on October 14th. The trip was an ultrafast, two-orbit one, thus the trip to the ISS took only three hours.
There were two Russian cosmonauts, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, and one NASA astronaut, Kathleen 'Kate' Rubins on board, per NASA Spaceflight.
First of its kind
This launch marked a milestone in terms of a crewed Soyuz mission, as it became the first to carry out an ultrafast, three-hour journey to the ISS. This trip took half the time of regular Low Earth Orbit trips to the ISS, and everything went according to plan.
This isn't the first time, though, that this ultrafast method has been successful. A previous unmanned launch took the same amount of time, which was on Progress MS-09 in July 2018, per NASA Spaceflight.
The reason for the ultrafast journey comes mainly down to comfort. As the Soyuz spacecraft is compact and cramped, it makes for a terribly uncomfortably journey for the astronauts on board, so getting to the Station as quickly as possible is the best way forward.
Ryzhikov is the commander of flight MS-17 and will take over the command of the ISS from astronaut Chris Cassidy. This is cosmonaut Kud-Sverchkov's first flight into space and he is Flight Engineer 1. And Rubins is Flight Engineer 2, going into her second flight to space.
The team that just arrived will take over the ISS from the Expedition 63 astronauts, Cassidy, Anatoli Ivanishin, and Ivan Vagner, who are due to leave the Station later this month.
The recently-arrived astronauts will take part in Expedition 64, and will be joined by SpaceX's Crew-1 team, who will be aboard the ISS for six months. The Expedition plans on seeing Kud-Sverchkov and Ryzhikov carry out two spacewalks, and the Soyuz MS-17 crew is due to leave the ISS in April 2021.