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Two Space Veterans and a Rookie French Astronaut Join International Space Station for a Five-month Mission

The current record is 534 days held by astronaut Jeff Williams

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International Space Station crew members, from left, American Peggy Whitson, Russian Oleg Novitskiy and Frenchman Thomas Pesquet are seen before the launch of the Soyuz spacecraft at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Nov. 17, 2016. VOA

Nov 18, 2016: Two space veterans and a rookie French astronaut are on their way to the International Space Station for a five-month mission.

American astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and France’s Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency blasted off aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft Friday morning from Kazakhstan.

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This will be a record-breaking mission for Whitson. At 56, she is the oldest woman to fly in space, and by the time the mission is over, she will set a new record for the most hours accumulated in space by an American.

The current record is 534 days held by astronaut Jeff Williams.

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“The most important thing about the station is the friendships and the work we accomplish there,” Whitson said before the launch.

Novitskiy is making his second trip to the space station, and this will be the first for Pesquet. They will join the three-man crew currently aboard the station. (VOA)

Next Story

SpaceX Crew Dragon Capsule Undocks from International Space Station

The Dragon is the first American commercially built-and-operated crew spacecraft in eight years, since the end of the space shuttle program.

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In this photo provided by NASA, the SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured about 20 meters (66 feet) away from the International Space Station’s Harmony module, March 3, 2019. It left Friday to splash down in the Atlantic. VOA

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule has undocked from the International Space Station.

The Dragon pulled away from the station early Friday, and an Atlantic Ocean splashdown is expected Friday morning.

The Dragon brought supplies and equipment to the space station where it stayed five days as astronauts conducted tests and inspected the Dragon’s cabin.

The crew capsule did not have any humans aboard, just a test dummy named Ripley, a reference to the lead character in the “Alien” movies. Ripley was riddled with sensors to monitor how flight in the capsule would feel for humans.

The Dragon is the first American commercially built-and-operated crew spacecraft in eight years, since the end of the space shuttle program.

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The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule has undocked from the International Space Station. Pixabay

The U.S. relies on Russia to launch astronauts to the space station, at a cost of about $80 million per ticket.

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NASA has awarded millions of dollars to SpaceX and Boeing to design and operate a capsule to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil beginning some time this year.

It is not immediately clear if that goal will be reached.

SpaceX is entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company. Musk is also the CEO of electric carmaker Tesla. (VOA)