Soyuz space capsule carrying American, Russian blasts off

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer (right) and Roscosmos cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin pose for a picture with their Sokol spacesuits at the Integration Building of Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 6, 2017 ahead of an April 20 launch.

A day before the launch, Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin said that his vision of the spacecraft differs from that of NASA astronaut Jack Fischer. They reached orbit about nine minutes later, a moment illustrated when a stuffed white dog toy hanging from a string in the capsule began to float. Once they arrive at the station, they'll join the three astronauts already living in the orbiting lab and will become part of Expedition 51.

NASA TV will provide live streaming coverage of the launch beginning at 2:15 a.m. EDT.

Fischer's wife thanked him for what she said was "the most unexpected bouquet of flowers" that she received as he was launching into space.

"Mom, it's like me being in Texas, depending on where we are going around the Earth, I'll be just as close", he said.

The 43-year-old might want to seek some advice from fellow NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who is going to receive an out-of-this-world call from President Donald Trump on Monday after beating a special record. Commander Whitson, 57, in the midst of her third long-duration mission, is due on Monday to beat the 534-day record for cumulative time spent in space by a USA astronaut. Jeffrey Williams now holds the 534-day record.

"The basic crew comprises Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and United States astronaut Jack Fischer", a Roscosmos spokesman said.

Fischer and Yurchikhin will spend more than four months aboard the orbiting space station before also returning to Earth in September.

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