Nov 24, 2014 01:54 PM EST
Rounding out the crew of six, who have been short-staffed since the return of three members earlier this summer, three new replacements for Expedition 42 aboard the International Space Station arrived late Sunday, Nov. 23, bringing the orbiting space lab's population back to full strength.
Amongst the team of international astronauts, the three new team members include Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, and American-born NASA astronaut Terry Virts. The team arrived aboard a Russian Soyuz transporter rocket, launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and reached the space station in record time of only six hours.
After arriving the full team of six rejoiced in the Zvezda service module for a traditional crew greeting ceremony, where mission officials, families and friends were able to congratulate the team for the safe voyage into space. NASA TV streamed the ceremony, and the entire team appeared to be in great spirits and good health after the short trip through Earth's outer atmosphere.
And while sporadic events like the arrival ceremonies and returns have often been covered by news sources since the $100 billion International Space Station began rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since 2000, American astronaut Terry Virts says that this time will be a bit different.
Hoping to share the experiences of life in space, and aboard the cozy International Space Station, Virts is planning to keep those on Earth up-to-date by regaling viewers with tantalizing stories and images he plans to share on social media platforms like Twitter. And while we can expect that his private Twitter and Instagram accounts will be inundated with "follow requests" in the days to come, Virts is adamant about the importance of sharing a bit of the experience of what spaceflight is like, for those who are still home on Earth.
"It's such a unique experience and such a small number of people ever get to leave Earth, so I'm going to be using Twitter and Instagram to share pictures" Virts said before the launch Sunday morning. "@AstroTerry is the call-sign [social media handle]. And hopefully I can just share the adventure that I'm going on with as many people as possible around the world."
But aside from social media sharing, Virts and the rest of the crew have their work cut out for them in the weeks to come. Continuing the long-held work of the International Space Station, the team of astronauts will maintain the integrity of ongoing research projects aboard the space station, and will hopefully collect data that will allow researchers here on Earth to better assess the conditions and practices that will make life in space a feasible feat for future generations of mankind.
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