A Soyuz spacecraft carrying a crew of three linked up with the International Space Station on Friday (July 28), doubling the orbiting lab's population and kicking off a five-month mission for its space-traveling trio.
The Russian-built Soyuz MS-05 docked with the space station at 5:54 p.m. EDT (2154 GMT) as the two craft sailed 252 miles (406 kilometers) above Germany. The rendezvous in space delivered NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy (of Roscosmos) and Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency to the station, where they joined three other members of the Expedition 52 crew already aboard.
Bresnik, Ryazanskiy and Nespoli — all of whom have flown in space before — launched into orbit just 6 hours earlier aboard a Soyuz rocket that lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan in Central Asia at 11:41 a.m. EDT (1541 GMT). They are joining NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson, Jack Fischer and cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin at the station.
Fischer had his camera ready when the Soyuz launched with the new crewmembers. He captured a stunning photo of the Soyuz launch as it appeared from the space station and posted it on Twitter.
Bresnik, Ryazanskiy and Nespoli are scheduled to return to Earth in December. Whitson, Fischer and Yurchikhin will return home earlier, in September.