Three people will launch toward the International Space Station (ISS) in the predawn hours Thursday (April 9), and you can watch their departure from Earth live.
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner is scheduled to lift off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Thursday at 4:05 a.m. EDT (0805 GMT; 1:05 p.m. local time in Baikonur).
Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner will take a fast-track route to the ISS, arriving after just six hours and four laps around our planet. If all goes according to plan, the trio's Soyuz will dock with the station’s Zvezda service module at 10:16 a.m. EDT (1416 GMT). You can follow the docking live as well, beginning at 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT).
Once aboard, the new arrivals will be greeted by NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir and cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, who commands the space station's current Expedition 62.
The six spaceflyers won't be together long, however; Morgan, Meir and Skripochka will return to Earth on April 17. When that happens, Cassidy will take command of the new Expedition 63.
Thursday morning's launch will kick off the third space mission for Cassidy and Ivanishin and the first for Vagner.
- In photos: The Expedition 62 mission to the International Space Station
- Soyuz 'fast track': how 1-day space station trips work (infographic)
- The International Space Station: inside and out (infographic)
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.