Typically, there’s a bit of a delay between when astronauts launch from Earth to the International Space Station, and when they actually dock with the orbital lab. This has to do with the relative orbits of the launch spacecraft and the ISS, as well as their takeoff point from Earth. Expedition 64, which launched today, however, docked with the station just around three hours after leaving Earth from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov took off at just before 2 AM EDT, and docked with the ISS at 4:48 AM EDT – three hours and two minutes after liftoff. The hatches between the capsule and the station opened at 7:07 AM EDT, officially beginning the operational duty roster stint for the three new ISS crew members. Coincidentally it’s also Rubins’ birthday.
For a sense of that speed, consider that Demo-2, the last crewed launch to the ISS, docked with the station a full day following its liftoff from Florida in May. Typically, the crew capsule requires a few more orbits to match velocity and altitude with the station, but in this case, the timing and conditions were right to get the spacecraft in the correct spot after just two super fast orbits around the Earth.
There are now six crew members staffing the ISS, including cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, as well as NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy who were already on the station.