A workhorse Soyuz booster thundered to life and climbed into a dark Kazakh sky Friday, carrying NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko on a four-orbit voyage to the International Space Station to kick off a marathon 342-day mission, the longest flight ever attempted by an American.
Confident in technical and procedural fixes implemented since a launch in August left two Galileo satellites in the wrong orbit, officials with Europe’s navigation program say Friday’s liftoff of two identical craft on a Soyuz rocket will try to fill the same slots in the fleet as targeted by last year’s failed mission.
Three space station residents launched Friday from Kazakhstan, kicking off a nearly yearlong expedition to help plan for future voyages to Mars. The crew blasted off on a Soyuz rocket heading for the International Space Station at 1943 GMT (3:43 p.m. EDT). Docking occurred at 0136 GMT (9:36 p.m. EDT).