A new crew is headed up to the International Space Station (ISS) this Friday. Russian cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams will be launching on a Russian Soyuz from Kazakhstan to meet Tim Peake, Tim Kopra, and Yuri Malenchenko on the ISS. Although every launch, docking, and hatch opening is super fun to watch (I almost always do a post for them… you can I say I like them… a lot), this launch is special because Jeff Williams will be breaking Scott Kelly‘s current record of 520 days in space during his ISS stay. This will be Williams’s third trip to the station (an American record itself) and after his six months are up he will have spent a total of 534 days in space! This is impressive until you to compare it to Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka’s record of longest time a human has been in space. Padalka has racked in a total of 879 days over five missions! WOW!!!
The launch is scheduled for March 18th 5:26 p.m. EST (21:26 GMT), programming starting at 4:30 pm EST (20:30 GMT). Docking will happen at 11:12 pm EST (3:12 GMT 19/3), programming beginning at 10:30 EST (2:20 GMT 19/3). The hatch will finally be opened at 12:55 EST March 19th (4:55 GMT), programming starting at 12:30 am EST (4:30 GMT). All events are available on NASA TV with translations (it is a Russian orbiter and launcher commanded by Russian cosmonauts).
Most people tend to just stream the launches and skip out on the rest of the events, but I urge people not to do this. Docking and hatch opening events both have the astronauts at center stage and thus really gives you a sense of human involvement in space. It is really cool to see the current cosmonauts greet their new housemates as much as it is cool to watch someone try to dock the ship! So if you only have time to drop in on one activity, maybe skip the launch this time and try something new.
Now it is time to for them to suit up and for us to sit back, have a bowl of popcorn, and enjoy the show!