The crew of expedition 51/52 consists of Fyodor Yurchikhin, a veteran Russian cosmonaut, and Jack Fischer, a first-time USA astronaut.
Expedition 51 crewmembers Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos (left) and Jack Fischer of NASA (right) answer questions from the press at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Facility in Star City, Russia.
They reached orbit nine minutes later.
"I just want to see the Earth from my space station window and take photographs and hopefully learn from the experienced photographer on the station, Fyodor", he said. That occurred in late February, when an unpiloted Russian Progress spacecraft launched from Baikonur and safely delivered about three tons of supplies to the space station. With more than 3,000 hours flying time, Fischer will serve as Yurchikhin's flight engineer during launch and landing, a daunting task given the need to be fluent in Russian.
It is a six-hour journey to the space station in orbit.
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Manned launches to the ISS usually involve three crew members.
Yurchikhin has made four previous space flights. "I am sure this will lead to scientific achievements and provide practical value for astronauts, as we will be able to have fresh dairy products on board", Russian cosmonaut and biochemist Sergey Ryazansky, who is expected to fly to the ISS as part of the next expedition, said during the same press conference.
That trio has been in space for more than 150 days on its current mission and is scheduled to return to Earth in June.
The expanded Expedition 51 crew soon will conduct new science investigations arriving on Orbital ATK's seventh NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission Saturday, April 22. Already the most experienced female spacewalker, Whitson will become NASA's most experienced astronaut around 1:27 a.m. Monday, passing the previous USA mark for cumulative time in space of 534 days two hours and 48 minutes. Jeffrey Williams now holds the 534-day record. On that day, Wilson, who on a previous mission became the first woman to command the International Space Station, will break the USA astronaut record for the most cumulative time in space.
And on Monday, President Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, will call the space station to speak to astronaut and space station Commander Peggy Whitson, as well as Fischer.