Last updated May 7, 2018 at 2:39 pm
The Soyuz rocket is rolled out by train to the Baikonur Cosmodrome launchpad
Security personnel keep watch as the Soyuz rocket passes on its way to the launch pad, Monday, March 19, 2018 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The rocket launched on Wednesday 21 March, carrying Expedition 55 crew members Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel of NASA and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos. After two days of Earth orbit, they are scheduled to rendezvous with the International Space Station on Friday 23 March.
For the next five months they will live and work aboard the International Space Station, joining Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos, and Norishige Kanai of JAXA already on the station.
While on board the crew will carry out experiments as part of the station’s scientific program, studying the effects of microgravity on bone marrow and blood cells produced in bone marrow. They’ll also test a newly-developed passive nutrient delivery system for the Veggie plant growth facility, and a new facility to test materials, coatings and components of other large experiments in the harsh environment of space.
Feustel and Arnold will also conduct a spacewalk on 29 March, to replace cameras and install wireless antennas on the station’s exterior.
All three crew members have already been to space. Arnold flew on the shuttle Discovery as part of STS-119 in 2009, while Feustel has previously flown the Space Shuttle twice, including the final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, also in 2009.
Russian Artemyev has previously been to the ISS, spending over 5 months on board as part of expeditions 39 and 40.