NASA will launch a new rotation of crew members to the International Space Station Wednesday morning.
A Russian spacecraft carrying Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA, Sergey Prokopyev of Russian space agency Roscosmos and the ESA's Alexander Gerst, from Germany, lifted off as scheduled from the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz booster rocket at 1612 local time (4:12 a.m. PDT) Wednesday.
According to NASA, the trio will orbit Earth a total of 34 times before arriving at the outpost on Friday, June 8. The three astronauts will be greeted by their fellow Expedition 56 crewmates: NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev.
The trio is set to dock with the International Space Station's Rassvet module Friday. The hatch opening will occur at just after 11 a.m. ET, with the three astronauts entering the space station soon after.
Bridenstine, who became NASA administrator in April, said in a Washington Post interview that he has "talked to many large corporations that are interested in getting involved in [managing the ISS] through a consortium".
They will spend six months aboard the station, joining the three-man crew that's already aboard.
While at the ISS, the crew will continue working on experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.
This launch comes on the heels of the safe return to Earth of Expedition 55, which was made up of NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, Japan's Norishige Kanai and mission commander Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Space Agency.