A Russian, an American, and a German are the three astronauts who took off today from the steppes of Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to join the International Space Station (ISS).
The launch of the MS-09 rocket, with Russian Sergei Prokopiev, American Serena Aunon-Chancellor and German Alexander Gerst on board, was successfully completed from the Baikonur cosmodrome at the scheduled time.
The three astronauts should arrive at the ISS on Friday for a mission of about five months called “Horizons”
This team is relatively inexperienced compared to previous ones. Alexander Gerst, 42, of the European Space Agency (ESA), is the only one to have already spent time on board the ISS in 2014.
On the other hand, Sergei Prokopiev, the commander of the ship, made his first flight at 43, while this is the first mission for Serena Aunon-Chancellor, 42, who is also a doctor.
The latter was only appointed by NASA at the beginning of the year.
6,000 hours of training for the three astronauts before leaving for ISS
“We join the rocket on Gagarin’s launch pad. There she is, ready, smoking, alive, in all her beauty. I’m gonna have to give her another friendly pat before I climb in. I can’t wait to feel those engines in my back. Let’s go! Let’s go!” twitted Alexander Gerst before the launch.
Gerst was also the one who talked about the hard training the three astronauts underwent prior to the launch of the Soyuz rocket.
“Each of us has more than 6,000 hours of training behind us. In the simulators of the ISS and the Soyuz capsule, we repeated hundreds of emergency scenarios,” said Gerst.
The team members learned how to “react in the event of a sudden fire or when the space station leaks oxygen, or toxic gases escape”, or to “stitch up injuries, manage food supplies, handle the many complex equipment and procedures on the ISS,” he detailed before embarking on the MS-09 Soyuz rocket.