Russian spacecraft with US grandpa on board docks at space station

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan: A Russian spacecraft carrying three crew to the International Space Station, including a US grandfather who is poised to enter the record books, has successfully docked with the orbital outpost, NASA said.

The crew docked at 0309 GMT Saturday some 407 kilometers (253 miles) above the Pacific Ocean, off the western coast of Peru, according to the American space agency.

The rocket took off in windy conditions from Russia’s space base in Kazakhstan at 2126 GMT, an AFP reporter saw.

According to NASA, it orbited the earth four times in its approximately six-hour journey. “Spacecraft carrying crew successfully docks to @Space_Station,” NASA posted on Twitter.

The trio on board comprise Russians Oleg Skriprochka and Alexey Ovchinin, and US grandfather of three, Jeff Williams, a veteran of long-duration space missions.

The craft is decorated with a portrait of the first man in space, Soviet hero Yuri Gagarin, whose pioneering orbital flight was made nearly 55 years ago, on April 12 1961.

By the end of his half-year trip aboard the ISS, Williams “will become the American with the most cumulative days in space — 534,” NASA says. The previous US record was set by astronaut Scott Kelly earlier this year. AFP