WATCH: Russian Soyuz MS-04 Makes Perfect Midday Launch to Space With Veteran-Rookie ISS Crew
A two-person flight aboard Russia's Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft going to the International Space Station (ISS) just made a perfect launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today, April 20, at 3:13 a.m. EDT.
Aboard the Soyuz spacecraft is veteran cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikin of Roscosmos and rookie flight engineer Jack Fischer. The two will be the new addition to the Expedition 51 crew of the ISS. Yurchikin and Fischer will stay at the ISS for five months, Space.com reports.
The latest Soyuz MS-02 launch is quite a historical one. It's the first two-person Soyuz space mission conducted after 14 years and was even blasted off from the same launch pad where Yuri Gagarin's space legacy started. The last two-person Soyuz flight was back in April 2003 with NASA's Ed Lu and Roscosmos' Yuri Malenchenko on board.
This is Yurchikin's fifth flight to space while it's Fischer's first flight. On the live video during the launch (see below), the Soyuz MS-04 was detached from its third booster just eight minutes and 45 seconds after the launch started, CBS News reports.
In a press conference before the launch on April 19, Fischer said that onboard with them is some cargo which they will carry to the ISS. The rookie astronaut also joked about fitting their wives into the Soyuz spacecraft.
"I know I speak for Fyodor when I say if we could figure out how to fit [our wives] Larisa and Elizabeth in that seat, that is who we would take with us," he said.
Yurchikin and Fischer will join the Expedition 51 crew on the ISS, which includes Peggy Whitson from NASA, Thomas Pesquet from ESA and Oleg Novistkiy from Roscosmos. Whitson will break the record for the longest time by an American astronaut in space. She has been staying in the ISS for 534 days and still counting.
Yurchikin and Fischer will return to Earth on June 2 after a 135-day mission, and filling the third seat of their flight is astronaut Pesquet. Soyuz MS-04 is the 50th Soyuz spacecraft launched to the ISS.