ISS astronauts welcome two new crew members at International Space Station!

The Soyuz space capsule blasted off this morning for the International Space Station (ISS), carrying an American astronaut making his first space flight and a veteran Russian cosmonaut.

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin left Earth at 3:13 a.m. EDT to head to the International Space Station.

They reached orbit nine minutes later.

Two astronauts from the United States of America and Russian Federation arrived at global space station after six hours long journey.

According to a White House press release, the USA president wishes to convey the two astronauts his gratitude "for their service to our country in the cause of exploration and discovery".

At 57, Whitson also is the oldest woman to have been in space.

The Expedition 51 crew members will spend more than four months conducting approximately 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences, and technology development. Last month, Tech Times reported the live streaming of three spacewalks, two of them involving the seasoned astronaut - at the time serving as Flight Engineer for Expedition 50. The flight to the International Space Station will proceed in accordance with the shortened six-hour schedule.

The two launched aboard the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Station commander Peggy 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.

Traditionall, the launches are three-person crews, but the Russian space agency cut it back to two crew members as a way to save money.

She will return to earth in early September with both Fischer and Yurchikhin after NASA made a decision to extend her stay in space by three months.

Thus the overall station crew complement of astronauts and cosmonauts increases to five - from the US, Russia and France - representing their respective space agencies and countries.

A camera in the Soyuz crew module shows commander Yurchikhin, left, and Fisher, right during the climb to space. You don't need a telescope to see it.

Novitskiy and Pesquet will return to Earth on June 2 and Yurchikhin will take over as commander of Expedition 52. The new avionics box is arriving aboard Orbital ATK's Cygnus cargo craft on Saturday, April 22.