Dramatic night time launch of Soyuz MS-03.
Reinforcements arrived for the current Expedition 50 on the ISS. On Thursday, Soyuz MS-03 blasted off from the Russian space complex in Baikonur. On board the spacecraft was truly multi-national crew, each person from a different space agency. Commanding the Soyuz spacecraft was Oleg Novitskiy from Roscosmos (Russia), making his second flight. Also aboard was Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (France), making his first flight. And finally, there was also Dr. Peggy Whitson, NASA astronaut (USA) who holds the record as the woman with the most hours in space. She is scheduled to be the first woman to command the ISS for a second time, when she takes command for Expedition 51.
ISS Television camera picks up the approach of Soyuz MS-03.
Rather than take the shorter direct-to-rendezvous approach, the craft took two days to reach the ISS. Although the new MS series of Soyuz capsules has no problems using the 4-orbit rendezvous approach method, Russian engineers are still running tests and observing results during the two-day approach. The crew docked with the ISS on the 19th.
All of Expedition 50 together now. Front row: Peggy Whitson (L), Oleg Novitskiy (center), Thomas Pesquet (R). Back row: ISS Commander Shane Kimbrough (L), Sergey Rizhikov (Center), and Andrey Borisenko (R).