NASA astronaut reaches space station after 'fast-track' journey

New orbit path halves the time that it typically takes Soyuz crews to reach the space station

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins has reached the International Space Station after the Soyuz spacecraft carrying her and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov completed a fast-track, two-orbit rendezvous path to the orbiting space lab.

Rubins and her fellow crewmembers blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1:45 a.m. EDT. Their journey to the space station took a little over three hours and was the first time that a Soyuz Crew has taken the fast-track, two-orbit rendezvous path.

The new orbit path halves the time that it typically takes Soyuz crews to reach the space station.

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Capture of the Soyuz capsule was confirmed at 4:48 a.m. EDT. When the Soyuz hatch opened at 7:07 a.m. EDT, Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov joined NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Ivan Vagner, Anatoly Ivanishin onboard the space station.

(Front row from left) Expedition 64 crew members Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov join Expedition 63 crew members (back row from left) Ivan Vagner, Anatoly Ivanishin and Chris Cassidy inside the space station's Zvezda service module. (Front row from left) Expedition 64 crew members Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov join Expedition 63 crew members (back row from left) Ivan Vagner, Anatoly Ivanishin and Chris Cassidy shortly after the Soyuz capsule's arrival on Oct. 14, 2020.

(Front row from left) Expedition 64 crew members Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov join Expedition 63 crew members (back row from left) Ivan Vagner, Anatoly Ivanishin and Chris Cassidy inside the space station's Zvezda service module. (Front row from left) Expedition 64 crew members Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov join Expedition 63 crew members (back row from left) Ivan Vagner, Anatoly Ivanishin and Chris Cassidy shortly after the Soyuz capsule's arrival on Oct. 14, 2020. (NASA TV)

“Welcome Home!” tweeted NASA.

The new arrivals will spend six months on the space lab. Space Station Commander Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner have been aboard the complex since April and are scheduled to return to Earth in a week.

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In November, Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov are expected to greet NASA’s SpaceX first operational Crew Dragon mission, which is bringing NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi to the space station aboard the Crew Dragon vehicle. It follows a successful Demo-2 mission earlier this year.

Rubins will also be in orbit for the U.S. election and will vote in space for the second time. The astronaut also voted in space four years ago during a 115-day stint on the International Space Station.

She voted prior to her return to Earth on Oct. 30, 2016.

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The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers