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​Watch Three Astronauts Launch to the International Space Station

NASA’s Jeff Williams will have clocked up over 530 days in space after this, his fourth mission.

by Victoria Turk
Mar 18 2016, 5:00pm

Astronaut Jeff Williams. Image: NASA

Three astronauts are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on Friday from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA's Jeff Williams will head up to the space lab with Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Skriprochka and Alexey Ovchinin. You can watch the launch coverage from NASA TV here from 16:30 ET (20:30 GMT):

The mission is a landmark for Williams: He's already had three long-duration stays at the ISS, and this fourth mission, which is six months long, will give him the American record for cumulative time spent in space at 534 days. Williams, a 58-year-old grandfather, will take the title from Scott Kelly, whose recent year-long visit pushed him to a total over 520 days.

However, the US record pales in comparison to Russian or former Soviet Union cosmonauts; Roscosmos's Gennady Padalka has totted up 878 days over five missions.

Williams and his two travel mates will launch in a Soyuz at 17:26 ET to join the current Expedition 47 crew, which consists of NASA's Tim Kopra, British ESA astronaut Tim Peake, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko. One of the most interesting things expected to happen in their stay is the deployment of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), an experimental inflatable habitat that will attach to the ISS to make a temporary new room intended for technology demonstration purposes.

Here's wishing a safe trip to the latest team soon to be whizzing over our heads.