Three Expedition 53 crewmembers will blast off to the International Space Station today (Sept. 12), and you can watch the liftoff live.
NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba will join Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin in the Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft, which is slated to lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:17 p.m. EDT (2127 GMT). You can watch a live stream of the launch here on Space.com beginning at 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT), courtesy of NASA TV.
The trio will take the fast-track path to the space station, arriving at 10:57 p.m. EDT this evening, 5 hours and 40 minutes after the launch (0257 GMT on Sept. 13). You can watch live coverage of the Soyuz docking, too, starting at 10:15 p.m. EDT (0215 on Sept. 13). [Space Station Photos: Expedition 53 Mission Crew in Orbit]
After the Soyuz spacecraftis docked to the station's Poisk module, the crew will open the hatch early Wednesday morning (Sept. 13) at about 12:40 a.m. EDT (0440 GMT). Then, they'll greet their new roommates and co-workers, three inhabitants who arrived at the space station in July: NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy and the European Space Agency's Paolo Nespoli.
Vande Hei, Acaba and Misurkin will spend about five months at the space station, where they "will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the International Space Station, humanity's only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory," NASA officials said in a statement. They astronauts will start out working on Expedition 53 and transition over to Expedition 54 in the spring.
This will be Vande Hei's first mission to space; he was selected as an astronaut in 2009. He has also served as an aquanaut aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory during the NEEMO 18 mission. Acaba, who was NASA's first Puerto Rican astronaut candidate, is an experienced space traveler with one space station expedition and one space shuttle flight under his belt. Misurkin previously completed one space station expedition.
Return to Space.com today for complete coverage of the Expedition 53 crew launch.