Randy Bresnik will set off for the International Space Station on Friday.
Three new crew members for the International Space Station launched on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday.
Bresnik, the first alumnus of The Citadel to fly in space, will command NASA's 53rd expedition aboard the station after first serving as flight engineer during the second part of Expedition 52. It was 9:41 p.m. local time at the launch site.
The crew will orbit Earth four times en route to the spacecraft's arrival and docking to the space station's Rassvet module, at 6 p.m. Tune in at 5:15 p.m.to NASA Television or the agency's website to watch the docking live.
NASA reported that Flight Engineer Whitson earlier this week was doing research for a cancer study that may help develop more effective treatments for cancer patients.
Bresnik previously logged 10 days in space when he flew on a mission in 2009, performing two spacewalks. His science mission for ESA is called Vita (short for Vitality, Innovation, Technology and Ability) and was selected by Italy's ASI space agency. According to NASA's space station blog, one of the effects of living in space is a tendency of bodily fluids to move up toward the head, which may lead to vision damage.
The spacecraft will take a almost 6½ hours to reach the space station's Rassvet module.