New ISS crew sets off into space from Russian launchpad (VIDEO)

A Soyuz rocket with three new members of the International Space Station’s crew has been launched from the Russian spaceport in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, the ESA’s Thomas Pesquet and NASA’s Peggy Whitson will travel for two days before docking on the ISS, where they are expected to stay for six months.

The trio will be greeted aboard the ISS by cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko and NASA’s Shane Kimbrough, who have been living on the space station since October.

The crew of six will conduct hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science before their scheduled return next year.

Upon arrival, NASA’s Whitson will become the first woman to ever command the space station twice, she was also the first woman to hold the command position during her last stint in 2007.

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Flight commander Novitsky is a former combat Air Force pilot who switched to space travel in 2007. He is a veteran cosmonaut, this being his fourth space mission and third ISS expedition. 

At 38, Pesquet is Europe’s youngest astronaut. The Frenchman is planning something of a culinary revolution, joking at the team’s press briefing that the infamously repetitive ISS meals will be replaced with “delicious meals prepared by a five-star Michelin chef.”

Pesquet was supported by his brother, Baptiste, who traveled to Kazakhstan to wish him good luck before the start.

“I told him that everything is going to be fine, we are supporting him, we are very proud of him and this flight it’s going to rock,” Baptiste told RT.