Crew replacing astronauts stuck in space for a year arrive on the ISS

New team's arrival on the station will allow three astronauts to finally come home

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A new crew arrived on the International Space Station on Friday to replace three astronauts who were forced to carry out a year-long mission after their spacecraft suffered catastrophic damage.

Nasa astronaut Loral O’Hara and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub lifted off aboard the Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7.44pm, UAE time.

They will take over from US astronaut Frank Rubio and Russia's Dmitry Petelin and Sergey Prokopyev, who are expected to return to Earth on September 27.

"The Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft carrying O’Hara, as well as Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub of Roscosmos, docked to the station’s Rassvet module at 2.53pm EDT (10.53pm UAE time)," said Nasa.

Why did they spend a year in space?

Mr Frank and his two Russian colleagues travelled to the ISS on September 21, 2022, for what was meant to be a six-month mission.

But three months after docking, their Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft was damaged beyond repair – reportedly from a meteor strike that caused a coolant leak.

It was too dangerous for the crew to return on the damaged craft, so Nasa and Russian officials decided to extend their mission by six months.

A rescue craft, the Soyuz MS-23, was sent to the station in February with 430kg of supplies, and will bring the astronauts back.

Record-setting stay on the ISS

The extended stay means Mr Rubio has set the US record for the longest spaceflight by an astronaut.

When he lands on Earth, Mr Rubio will have spent 371 days in space, beating Nasa astronaut Mark Vande Hei’s record of 355 days.

Nasa administrator Bill Nelson spoke to Mr Rubio on Wednesday to thank him for his service.

"It was unexpected. In some ways, it's been an incredible challenge," Mr Rubio said in the live call.

"But in other ways, it's been an incredible blessing. I count myself lucky and honoured to be able to represent the agency and our country."

His colleagues praised his work on the space station.

US astronaut Woody Hoburg, who returned from a six-month mission earlier this month, said during his farewell speech on the ISS that he was impressed by Mr Rubio.

Crew to replace astronauts stuck in space for a year arrives at International Space Station

Crew to replace astronauts stuck in space for a year arrives at International Space Station

“His leadership up here has been incredible. He's been amazing to work with. And Frank is just making a huge sacrifice being away from his family for so long," he said.

“I just want to really recognise the service he's given to us at the space station.”

The extended trip will mean the Russians also set a new record for the longest spaceflight aboard the ISS by a Russian cosmonaut.

Mr Petelin and Mr Prokopyev will beat the time set by their colleagues, Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, of 355 days.

Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov, who died last year, holds the world record for the longest single stay in space. He spent 437 days on the Mir space station.

Who is the replacement crew?

This is Ms O'Hara's and Mr Chub's first spaceflight and Mr Kononenko's fifth mission.

The Russian cosmonauts will spend a year on the ISS and will return on the Soyuz MS-26 craft in September, 2024.

Ms O'Hara will be there for six months.

"I video chatted with Frank Rubio, who's on board the space station right now waiting for me to get there so he can come home," she said during a briefing on August 23.

Updated: September 16, 2023, 7:32 AM