Two astronauts and one cosmonaut were launched into the low orbit to join the Expedition 60 crew of the International Space Station.
On Saturday, July 20, NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov flew from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Russian Soyuz capsule carrying the trio docked with the orbiting laboratory six hours and 20 minutes later.
Celebrating Apollo 11's 50th Anniversary With A Launch
The launch coincided with the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing.
"I can't think of a better way to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing than launching on the anniversary with an international crew, especially in light of NASA's reaffirmation that we intend to land a crew on the surface of the moon in 2024," stated Morgan.
It was an incredible honor to celebrate the #Apollo50th anniversary of the historic lunar landing with my crewmates on @Space_Station yesterday. Their passion and drive for space exploration paved the way for the engineering marvel to which I call home. pic.twitter.com/tXzyZel4xm — Christina H Koch (@Astro_Christina) July 21, 2019
Current Crew Of The ISS
Morgan, Parmitano, and Skvortsov will join the current crew of the ISS. NASA's Nick Hague, Christina Koch, and Russian Alexey Ovchinin, who serves as the Expedition 60 Commander, have been onboard the space station since March.
This is Morgan's first mission to space. He was selected to become an astronaut in 2013. He also serves as an emergency physician in the U.S. Army.
For Parmitano, however, this is his second flight to the ISS. The Italian astronaut previously spent 166 days onboard the orbiting laboratory in 2013.
Meanwhile, Skvortsov returns to the Earth's low orbit for the third time. He previously served as the commander of Expedition 24 in 2010 and then the flight engineer of Expedition 39 in 2014.
The trio replaced Roscosmos' Oleg Kononenko, NASA's Anne McClain, and Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques who returned to Earth in June.
While on board the space station, the current crew will participate in scientific experiments, including 3D-printing organ-like tissues in microgravity.
Parmitano and Skvortsov will end their mission and go back home in February. Morgan will enjoy an extended stay at the ISS until the spring of 2020.
Expedition 60 began on June 24 and will end on Oct. 3. Astronaut Hague and Cosmonaut Ovchinin will leave the ISS in September. Koch, on the other hand, will stay in the station until next year and will set a new record for the longest continuous spaceflight by a woman.