A trio of astronauts soared off Earth on Monday morning (Dec. 3), destined to spend six months living and working aboard the International Space Station — and the best view was savored by their now-roommates.
European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst watched the launch camera in hand, and the result is an incredible time-lapse video showing the journey of NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques.
"Our friends, on the way here," Gerst wrote on Twitter when he posted the video yesterday (Dec. 5). "I still can't comprehend that there are humans riding on the top of this lone white streak into the great black open." (He has made the journey twice, in 2014 and in June of this year.)
Gerst is wrapping up his own stay in space, due to return to Earth on Dec. 20. When he and his two colleagues leave, the space station will again be down to just three residents, after a failed launch in October sent two astronauts falling back to Earth.
But those two astronauts got new assignments just after Monday's successful launch — NASA's Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos will fly with rookie NASA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch. The trio will fly during the next crewed launch, on Feb. 28, 2019, bringing the space station crew back up to its usual size.
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Meghan is a senior writer at Space.com and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined Space.com in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.