NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, 2 cosmonauts launching on a Russian spacecraft to the ISS

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NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and two Roscosmos cosmonauts will depart from Kazakhstan on Wednesday to begin their six-month mission on the International Space Station.

Liftoff of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft is scheduled for Wednesday at 9:54 a.m. EDT (6:54 p.m. local time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

This will be the first spaceflight for Rubio and cosmonaut Dmitry Petelin and the second for cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev.

According to his NASA biography, Rubio considers Miami, Florida to be his hometown. As a medic and Blackhawk pilot, Rubio served in the U.S. Army Airborne Special Forces before joining NASA’s astronaut class in 2017.

After a three-hour spaceflight, the crew will dock with the ISS around 1 p.m.

The three newcomers will be welcomed to the space station by three cosmonauts, three NASA astronauts and an astronaut from the European Space Agency.

Along with Rubio’s launch on Wednesday, NASA will conduct a refueling test of its mega moon rocket at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The space agency hopes the test will pave the way for a September 27 launch attempt of the Space Launch System and the uncrewed Orion spacecraft.

NASA plans to broadcast both the launch and the rocket test live online.

Next month, SpaceX will launch four more astronauts to the International Space Station, including the first Russian cosmonaut to fly with Elon Musk’s company.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japan Space Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina will soon travel to Florida before their liftoff.

The Crew-5 mission will mark the fifth operational crewed flight in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and the sixth for SpaceX carrying NASA astronauts to the ISS.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 12:45 a.m. EDT on October 3 to launch astronauts on SpaceX’s Dragon Endurance spacecraft atop the Falcon 9 rocket.

Since 2019, when SpaceX began launching astronauts for NASA, the US space agency and Roscosmos have continued to negotiate to swap seats on a SpaceX Dragon and a Russian Soyuz.

After the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011, until the first successful commercial crew launch, NASA purchased seats from Russia to ferry American astronauts to and from the ISS.

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