American astronaut Frank Rubio is heading to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday in a speedy trip that will take just three-and-a-half hours.
In his first trip to space, the California-born astronaut will blast off on a Russian Soyuz 2.1a rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Rubio will travel to orbit aboard the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft alongside Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin.
The ride to the space station will take a little longer than the current fastest trip from Earth to the ISS, which took just three hours and three minutes in an October 2020 mission that also involved a Soyuz spacecraft.
As part of the Expedition 68 crew, Rubio, Prokopyev, and Petelin will spend the next six months living and working aboard the orbital outpost some 250 miles above Earth.
Speaking with reporters last month, Rubio said that despite international tensions caused by Russia’s war with Ukraine, he hadn’t noticed any issues with NASA’s Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, adding that he was also getting along well with his two travel companions.
The NASA astronaut said the mission “represents the ongoing effort of tremendous teams on both sides and amazing people that make this happen,” adding, “I think it’s important that, when we’re at moments of possible tension elsewhere, human spaceflight and exploration, something that both agencies are incredibly passionate about, remains a form of diplomacy and partnership where we can find common ground and keep achieving great things together.”
How to watch
NASA’s Frank Rubio will launch for the ISS at 9:54 a.m. ET (6:54 p.m. Baikonur time) on Wednesday, September 21.
You can watch a livestream of the lift off and the early stages of the flight via the video player embedded at the top of this page, or by visiting NASA’s website, which will carry the same feed. Coverage will begin at 9 a.m. ET.
NASA will share a livestream of the Soyuz spacecraft docking with the space station about three-and-a-half hours after launch. You can also watch this using the same video player.