New crew members move from Soyuz spacecraft to ISS

The Soyuz MS-06 crew: Joe Acaba commander Alexander Misurkin and flight engineer Mark Vande Hei.               NASA

The astronauts will be meeting up with the other half of Expedition 53 at ISS, who arrived in July - European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Riazanski and NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik.

The spacecraft carrying Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin as well as NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei lifted off at 21:17 GMT.

It took the Soyuz spacecraft about nine minutes to launch into an initial orbit 202 kilometres from Earth. All are to stay on the space station about six months.

NASA said that "the crew is feeling fine". The craft even arrived at the International Space Station a few minutes early.

"I can guarantee my crewmates they will not fall asleep during that music and if you want to dance at about 3 am tuned into our Soyuz capsule I think you'll enjoy it", he told journalists.

Vande Hei attended Benilde-Saint Margaret High School in St. Louis Park and received his bachelor's degree from St. John's University.

Vande Hei said he's happy to be part of a "peaceful endeavour that could actually help out all of humanity". I always thought of astronauts as superheroes. Among that trio was NASA's Peggy Whitson, who wrapped up a record-breaking flight that catapulted her to first place for USA space endurance. Their capsule successfully entered orbit and is expected to dock at the ISS after a six-hour flight, NASA and the Russian Roscosmos said.

During his anticipated 5½-month stint orbiting 250 miles above Earth, the retired Army colonel who twice served in Iraq will participate in various biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science experiments.

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