Launch Photos: Russian Rocket Launches Expedition 50/51 Crew to International Space Station

New Crew Blasts Off to the ISS


The Expedition 50 crew blasted off in a Soyuz rocket at 3:20 p.m. EST (2020 GMT) on Nov. 17, beginning a two-day trip to the International Space Station. Read the full story here.

Expedition 50 Soyuz Launch

NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with Expedition 50 crewmembers NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Nov. 17 at 3:20 p.m. EST (2020 GMT).

Seconds to Launch


Astronaut Thomas Pesquet and cosmonaut Oleg Navitskiy hold hands as the countdown approaches launch time.

Expedition 50 Boards the Soyuz

NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Expedition 50 crewmembers wave farewell as they board the Soyuz spacecraft 2.5 hours before liftoff.

Expedition 50 Team


The entire Expedition 50 Team poses for a photo. Expedition 49/50 crewmembers (from left) Andrei Borisenko of Roscosmos, Shane Kimbrough of NASA, Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos arrived at the International Space Station in October. Expedition 50/51 crewmembers ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, Peggy Whitson of NASA and Oleg Novitsky of Roscosmos will meet the other crew after docking at the ISS on Nov. 19.

First Steps

NASA/Bill Ingalls

In preparation for Expedition 50, the Soyuz rocket rides a train to the Baikonur Cosmodrome launchpad in Kazakhstan in the early morning hours of Nov. 14, 2016.

Journey Begins

NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Soyuz rocket for Expedition 50 rolls to the launchpad on a well-guarded train bed. NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome for a six-month stay on the International Space Station.

Rising to the Occasion

NASA/Bill Ingalls

As the Expedition 50 crew prepares for launch to the ISS, the Soyuz rocket is raised onto the launchpad.

The Task Ahead

NASA/Bill Ingalls

The trio of Expedition 50/51 crewmembers — ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, left, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, center, and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson — prepare for their final qualification exams at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.

Lookin' Good

NASA/Bill Ingalls

To prepare for a six-month stay in space, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and his crewmates get haircuts. There are no barber shops on the ISS, and cutting hair in zero gravity can be tricky, so many space travelers choose to prepare their hair with a short, clean cut before leaving Earth.

Good Medicine

NASA/Alexander Vysotsky

As launch time grows near, the Expedition 50-51 crewmembers — Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (left), Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos, center) and Peggy Whitson of NASA (right) — share a laugh will posing for pictures during preflight activities.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.