These astronauts will whiz around Earth 34 times before reaching space station

The manned spacecraft is carrying Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev (the Soyuz MS-09's commander), NASA astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor and representative of the European Space Agency (ESA) Alexander Gerst. Russia's State Space Corporation Roscosmos installed external video cameras on the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft for the first time to test the methods of visual control over the carrier rocket's flight, Roscosmos said on Wednesday. That team is comprised of Americans Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and Russian Oleg Artemyev.

The ISS crew spent a staggering 168 days in orbit, circling the Earth 2,688 times and covering a distance of 71.2 million miles.

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The livestream above, courtesy of NASA TV's public streaming service, began coverage at 11.15pm BST straight from the Kazakhstani Cosmodrome. Epps remains in consideration for future missions, NASA said.

The NASA live stream comes days after the U.S. space agency broadcasted the return of Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov, flight engineer Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency touching back on Earth. The crew of six will spend the coming months working on about 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development, according to NASA.

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The crew will have to perform 55 scientific experiments during their mission, as well as head into outer space, carry out maintenance work and shoot videos. "Sending astronauts into space is one of the most visible of the US space programs over time".

NASA has a vast portfolio of different missions, but when rating nine of these missions, most Americans say that monitoring the climate system (63 percent) and monitoring asteroids and other near-Earth objects for potential collisions (62 percent) should be top priority.

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