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3 Astronauts Safely Reach International Space Station

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Three astronauts, two Americans and one Russian, reached safely at the International Space Station following a successful launch and docking of their Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft Thursday.

The Soyuz spacecraft carrying Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA and Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos was launched at 3:14 p.m. EDT (12:14 a.m. Friday local time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Hague, Koch and Ovchinin docked to the space station's Rassvet module at 9:01 p.m. after a four-orbit, six-hour journey.

They opened the hatch and were welcomed aboard the orbiting laboratory at 11:07 p.m. by the current crew members.

It marked the beginning of their six months-long mission, Expedition 59, NASA said.

The arrival of Hague, Koch and Ovchinin restores the station's crew complement to six. They have joined Anne McClain of NASA, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Expedition 59 Commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos.

During their stay on the space laboratory, the crew members will conduct about 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences, and technology development.

Highlights of upcoming investigations include devices that mimic the structure and function of human organs, free-flying robots, and an instrument to measure Earth's distribution of carbon dioxide.

Three resupply spacecraft - a Russian Progress, Northrop Grumman Cygnus and SpaceX Dragon - are scheduled to arrive with supplies for the crew, and to support the investigations.

Hague, Koch, McClain and Saint Jacques will venture outside the station's Quest airlock for three planned spacewalks, scheduled for March 22, 29, and April 8. The March 29 spacewalk by McClain and Koch will be the first-ever spacewalk with all-female space walkers.

McClain, Saint-Jacques and Kononenko are scheduled to remain aboard the station until June, while Hague, Koch and Ovchinin are set to return to Earth early this fall.

Hague and Ovchinin now have completed a journey to the station five months after surviving a failed Soyuz launch.

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