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.