Expedition 64, which launched today, however, docked with the station just around three hours after leaving Earth from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
A Soyuz 2.1a launcher with the manned Soyuz spacecraft MS-17 is scheduled to fire from location No. 31 (Vostok launch pad) of the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan on October 14 at 8:45 a.m. Moscow time to deliver Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov as well as NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins to the orbit outpost. They have begun a two-orbit, three-hour flight to reach the International Space Station and join the Expedition 63 crew. "It has been tested with Progress [cargo] vehicles", Ryzhikov said in a pre-launch press conference on Tuesday.
This launch marked a milestone in terms of a crewed Soyuz mission, as it became the first to carry out an ultrafast, three-hour journey to the ISS. The six crew members will serve together for seven days before Cassidy, Evaneshin and Wagner return to Earth aboard the Soyuz MS-16, leaving Robins, Regikov and Cod-Sverhkov to begin Expedition 64. As the Soyuz spacecraft is compact and cramped, it makes for a terribly uncomfortably journey for the astronauts on board, so getting to the Station as quickly as possible is the best way forward.
Typically, there's a bit of a delay between when astronauts launch from Earth to the International Space Station, and when they actually dock with the orbital lab.
This is the second spaceflight for Rubins and Ryzhikov and the first for Kud-Sverchkov. Apart from those watching the live coverage of the event, their colleagues who were already aboard the space station also witnessed the record-setting launch.
Their six-month mission will coincide with the space station's 20th anniversary marking 20 years of continuous human presence.