A NASA astronaut had captured the breathtaking moment when her friend took off aboard the crewed Soyuz MS 15 spacecraft. The picture, taken by the flight engineer Christina Koch, depicts the spacecraft launching from Earth and heading to the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA flight engineer Koch shared the picture on Twitter with the mention: “What it looks like from @Space_Station when your best friend achieves her lifelong dream to go to space. Caught the second stage in progress! We can’t wait to welcome you onboard, crew of Soyuz 61!”
The craft carries three people on board: Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates and NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, which is also Koch’s best friend. The mission has been dubbed by NASA’ Expedition 61.’
Koch and Meir first met while training to become astronauts, and are now reunited in space. They will work together until February 2020.
The Soyuz spacecraft successfully reached the ISS at 3.42 pm EDT, on the same day it was launched. The main components of this mission include the installment of new lithium-ion batteries for two of the ISS’ solar network power channels by performing a number of spacewalks, NASA stated.
Towards the end of the expedition, spacewalkers are set to update and fix the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), a crucial tool located outside the station, which observes dark matter and tries to make sense of the Universe.
When Koch returns back to Earth, she would have reached 355 days in space, which is the longest single spaceflight made by a woman.
The International Space Station orbits about 220 miles above the Earth and completes one tour around the planet every 92 minutes, as per NASA. The space station is a $100 billion science and engineering laboratory, traveling at about 17,200 miles per hour.