Trio of astronauts blast off to International Space Station

Oleg Artemyev/@OlegMKS tweeted

Oleg Artemyev/@OlegMKS tweeted"The hatches are closed just over an hour before the"union is undocked from the station

The trio of astronauts were successfully launched into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:12 a.m. ET Wednesday, 5:12 p.m. local time.

The astronauts will spend the next five-and-a-half months in low orbit above the planet.

A fun fact for Michiganders is that with Expedition 55 leaving the space station, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos handed control of the space station over to NASA astronaut, and MI native, Andrew J. Feustel. Over this period, the crewmembers will be working with the Progress MS and US Dragon resupply ships, performing a program of applied researches and experiments and carrying out spacewalks (specifically, work outside the space station under the Russian program is scheduled for August 8).

The International Space Station's international nature does of course complicate the idea of the US turning it over to a commercial consortium, and Bridenstine told the Post that he was aware companies may find it "hard to close the business case".

Just over two hours later the astronauts are expected to walk through the opening hatch and be greeted by their fellow astronauts.

The ISS crew spent a staggering 168 days in orbit, circling the Earth 2,688 times and covering a distance of 71.2 million miles.

American, German and Russian astronauts were on board.

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