Veteran Russian commander Oleg Novitskiy, rookie flight engineer Pyotr Dubrov, and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei launched into orbit Friday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:42 a.m. EDT (0742 GMT). The crew members rode a Soyuz capsule in pursuit of the International Space Station, where docking occurred at 7:05 a.m. EDT (1105 GMT).
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, veteran of a 168-day stay in space in 2017-18, will join two Russian cosmonauts aboard a Soyuz spacecraft April 9 for a flight back to the International Space Station in a deal brokered through Houston-based Axiom Space, NASA and the Russian space agency announced Tuesday.
Two crewmen returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Friday, riding a Russian Soyuz spaceship to a parachute-assisted, rocket-cushioned landing in Kazakhstan to close out more than 196 days in orbit. Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet undocked from the station at 1047 GMT (6:47 a.m. EDT) and landed in Kazakhstan at 1410 GMT (10:10 a.m. EDT).