When NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth, he became the American with the most cumulative days logged in spaceflight with 520 days. However, he won’t hold the record for long.
This evening, NASA sends astronaut Jeff Williams into orbit. He’s headed for the International Space Station (ISS) for a six-month mission. During that time, he’ll surpass Kelly’s record, racking up a total of 534 days in space.
The launch is scheduled for 5:26 p.m. EDT from the Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. Williams will be joined by cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka. Coverage of the launch starts at 4:30 p.m., and can be viewed here.
Born Jan. 18, 1958, Williams joined the NASA astronaut class of 1996. He’s received degrees from U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, the U.S. Naval War College, and Johnson and Wales Univ. During his time in the military, he logged approximately 3,000 hours in more than 50 different aircrafts, per his biography.
According to NASA, Williams became the first astronaut to interact live with NASA’s social media fans and followers during his time aboard the ISS in 2009 and 2010.
This will be his third space station expedition. He’ll become commander of Expedition 48 on June 4.
While Williams will surpass Kelly, he’ll still trail far behind cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who has logged a cumulative time of 878 days in space.
According to Agence-France Presse, Williams has flown into space with 45 different people during his career.
Six hours after this evening’s launch, the crew will arrive at the ISS, connecting with the Poisk module at 11:12 p.m. NASA coverage of the hatch opening is scheduled for 12:30 a.m.
Williams, Ovchinin, and Skripochka will return to Earth in September 2016.
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