Soyuz spacecraft carrying 2 Russians, American docks with space station

1 of 5 | Two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut departed for a mission to the International Space Station on Friday aboard a Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE

Sept. 15 (UPI) — Two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut docked with the International Space Station on Friday after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft.

The spacecraft was launched atop a Soyuz 2.1a booster rocket at 11:44 a.m. EDT from the Cosmodrome’s Site 31/6 and docked at space station shortly before 3 p.m.

The hatch opening occurred at 5:16 p.m., enabling the newest visitors to enter the space station shortly after.

Russian cosmonauts Nikolai Chub and Oleg Kononenko joined NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara on the mission, which officially is called Expedition 70.

Kononenko, who flew on four previous space station missions, holds the record for the longest time spent in space cumulatively at 736 days.

Cosmonauts and astronauts from previous expeditions were forced to delay their return to Earth because of a coolant leak in a previous Soyuz capsule.

Due to the return to Earth having been delayed, American astronaut Frank Rubio, who arrived at the space station in September 2022, will break the record for the longest continuous time spend in space by a U.S. astronaut, with the return trip being planned for Sept. 27 at the earliest.

The scheduled return date means Rubio will have spent more than a calendar year in space continuously, a first for an American astronaut.

On Tuesday, NASA commemorated Rubio’s record with the previous U.S. record holder Mark Vande Hei.

“Astronaut Mark Vande Hei ‘passes the torch’ to astronaut Frank Rubio, who just beat his record for the single longest U.S. spaceflight. Rubio’s extended stay aboard the space station helps us see how the human body reacts to microgravity and informs future missions to deep space,” NASA posted on X on Tuesday.

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