Besides taking dazzling pictures of us from hundreds of miles away, the International Space Station (ISS) is a hub of experimentation. Today a rocket will fire off to the ISS, and in it will be three astronauts that will join the current station roster for Expedition 47. The Soyuz spacecraft will launch from Kazakhstan’s isolated pad.
The gantry arms close around the Soyuz spacecraft, securing it before launch. Astronaut Jeff Williams (IG: @astro_jeffw) and cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka will launch Friday, March 18 for their five and a half month mission aboard the International Space Station. Credit: Aubrey Gemignani #nasa #international #space #station #internationalspacestation #iss #spacestation #roscosmos #outofthisworld #outerspace #orbit #astronaut #cosmonaut #baikonur #cosmodrome #kazakhstan #soyuz
The crew will investigate how hurtling through space affects human bodies — specifically, their muscles and skeleton, because zero gravity causes both to deteriorate at a more rapid pace than on Earth. Staving off atrophy will be key for any future lengthy missions, so they’ll also be testing more compact exercise equipment in a demonstration, according to the mission summary. (Tiny treadmills? We hope so.)
Microgravity, a fancier word for weak gravity that makes things appear weightless, also tends to mess with things as simple as taking pills. That is, if a pill or tablet doesn’t readily dissolve, the drug might not be released into your body like it should. So to see how some ingredients that the pharmaceutical industry uses fare in space, the crew wants to suss out if drug design needs to be altered for medicine in space (which can help us out on Earth, too).
Among the crew will be NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, who is set to break the American record for cumulative days in space at 534. Famed commander Scott Kelly, who returned to Earth earlier this month after his year in space, nabbed the title during the previous expedition. Williams will also hold another record for three space station expeditions.
The next crew to visit the International Space Station launches this Friday, March 18, at 5:26 p.m. EDT/9:26 p.m. UTC. From left are NASA astronaut Jeff Williams (IG: @astro_jeffw) and Roscosmos cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka. The trio is in front of the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft they will ride into space Friday evening. #nasa #international #space #station #internationalspacestation #spacestation #roscosmos #outofthisworld #outerspace #orbit #astronaut #cosmonaut #baikonur #cosmodrome
A photo posted by International Space Station (@iss) on
Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will also be on the journey, which will take about six hours till they safely dock, according to a NASA blog post.