The spaceship is scheduled to dock to the International Space Station at 10:57pm EDT, where the three new members will join Expedition 53 commander NASA's Randy Bresnik, cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy and Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency.
Mark Vande Hei, along with one other American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut, launched into space shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday. A series of engine burns brought the crew in line with the orbit of the International Space Station. The new trio will spend five-and-a-half months aboard the station.
NASA said that "the crew is feeling fine". He had been assigned to a Space Station launch in March but was reassigned to his current mission. The hatches between the spacecraft and station will open at 12:40 a.m. Wednesday.
"I can guarantee my crewmates they will not fall asleep during that music and if you want to dance at about 3 am tuned into our Soyuz capsule I think you'll enjoy it", he told journalists. It's the first voyage for American Mark Vande Hei.
In a profile published in the school's magazine earlier this year, Vande Hei said he remembers being 6 years old and thinking that "being an astronaut was kind of like saying I wanted to group up and be Spider-Man". "I always thought working at NASA would be awesome because of my physics background...." Whitson, 57, broke the US record for cumulative time in space.
"Spacecraft Soyuz MS-06 will approach the ISS using a short six-hour rendezvous capability".
During his anticipated 5½-month stint orbiting 250 miles above Earth, the retired Army colonel who twice served in Iraq will participate in various biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science experiments.