New Crew Launching to Space Station Today: Watch It Live

The Soyuz TMA-20M Rocket Ready for Liftoff
The Soyuz TMA-20M rocket stands ready for lifoff at its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Image credit: NASA)

Three new crewmembers will launch toward the International Space Station (ISS) this evening (March 18), and you can watch all the spaceflight action live.

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka are scheduled to blast off aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket today at 5:26 p.m. EDT (2126 GMT) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. You can watch the liftoff live here at, courtesy of NASA TV; coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT).

If all goes according to plan, the trio's Soyuz spacecraft will reach the orbiting lab at 11:12 p.m. EDT tonight (0312 GMT on Saturday, March 19), less than 6 hours after leaving Earth. The hatches between the newly docked Soyuz and the space station are scheduled to open at 12:55 a.m. EDT Saturday (0455 GMT), NASA officials said.

You can watch these arrival activities live here at as well, also courtesy of NASA TV. Docking coverage begins at 10:30 p.m. EDT (0230 GMT Saturday), and hatch-opening coverage starts at 12:30 a.m. EDT Saturday (0430 GMT).

When they float through the hatch and into the ISS, the newcomers will bring the orbiting lab back up to its full complement of six crewmembers. NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, Briton Tim Peake and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko have had the space station to themselves since March 1, when fellow space fliyers Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov departed for Earth.

Kelly and Kornienko spent an unprecedented 340 straight days aboard the ISS, completing a mission designed to help lay the foundation for crewed journeys to faraway Mars.

During the 11-month mission, Kelly set an American record for the most total days spent in space — 520. But veteran space fliyer Williams will break that record on his upcoming ISS mission; when he lands about six months from now, Williams will have racked up 534 days of spaceflight experience, NASA officials said.

Williams is also embarking upon his third ISS mission, which is another American record.

Williams, Ovchinin and Skripochka will soon be joined in orbit by a robotic visitor — the Cygnus cargo spacecraft, which is built by American company Orbital ATK. Cygnus is scheduled to launch on a resupply mission Tuesday night (March 22) and arrive at the space station four days later.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.