Boarding the Soyuz Spacecraft on Launch Day

Expedition 43 Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), top, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, center, and Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos wave farewell as they board the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft ahead of their launch to the International Space Station, Friday, March 27, 2015 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Kelly and Kornienko will spend a year in space and return to Earth on Soyuz TMA-18M in March 2016. Most expeditions to the space station last four to six months. By doubling the length of this mission, researchers hope to better understand how the human body reacts and adapts to long-duration spaceflight. This knowledge is critical as NASA looks toward human journeys deeper into the solar system, including to and from Mars, which could last 500 days or longer.

The Soyuz is set to lift off at 3:42 p.m. EDT, Friday, March 27 on a six-hour, four-orbit flight to the station.

Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls via NASA http://ift.tt/1CUFllA

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