Kazakhstan- A new team including one American and two Russian astronauts has arrived at the International Space Station to join another team of three astronauts on board. The team will spend five months on board to conduct several science investigations, that could lead to an upgrade in NASA’s Journey to the red planet.

Jeff Williams is a NASA astronaut that has now become the first American to be a long-term resident in the International Space Station. This is Williams third time on board.

Expedition 47 crew members NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, and Oleg Skripochka and Alexei Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. Credit: NASA

Williams was launched aboard a Soyuz TMA- 20M spacecraft with Russian astronauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos. The trio left Earth from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:26 p.m local time.

The team orbited Earth four times before being docked at the station. The hatches between the spacecraft and the International Space Station opened at 12:55 a.m. Saturday on March 19. The trio will be joining the Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra from NASA, Flight Engineer Tom Peake of the European Space Agency and Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos.

The team was given the name of Expedition 47 crew. They will spend over five months in the station conducting over 250 science investigations. The fields in the research include biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development. The studies findings will be received in an Orbital ATK’s fifth NASA commercial resupply mission late March.

These studies will hopefully include an investigation on a realistic fire scenario of a spacecraft, the enabling of the first space-based observations of meteors entering the Earth’s atmosphere from space, explorations of the behavior of soil in microgravity, testings of a device designed to stick on and command in harsh space environment and the use of a 3D printer on the station.

The Expedition 47 crew, will be the first to receive an expandable habitat allowing NASA to be the first to investigate the innovative habitat concept that supports astronaut survival in the harsh space environment.

Bigelow Expandable Activity Module or BEAM is an experimental expandable module that will be delivered on a resupply launching by NASA. The team will not live within the habitat, but it will be attached to the International Space Station to be expanded and tested for two years. Astronauts will periodically enter the habitat to evaluate the performance of the module in space.

This will help NASA’s studies on expandable habitats that will support crew members while traveling to an asteroid or to the red planet. The BEAM will take less space on a rocket and will allow additional volume for living and working craft.

Russia is also sending a resupply module loaded with three tons of food, fuel, supplies and research.

The International Space Station has been holding humans to live continuously on board for over 15 years, this has helped in the advances of scientific knowledge and in the demonstration of new technologies, allowing the human kind to make research breakthroughs that are not possible down here in Earth.

Source: Space Ref