St. John's University alum Mark Vande Hei, along with two Russian cosmonauts, arrived safely at the International Space Station at 6:05 Friday morning after taking off from Kazakhstan.

The space travelers did two orbits and docked after nearly three hours in flight.

The hatches were set to open at 8 a.m. CST.

Vande Hei, who graduated from SJU in 1989, will work under NASA astronaut Shannon Walker, who will be commander of Expedition 65. One NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts will depart the ISS after their six-month mission.

Vande Hei's six-month long mission will focus on science and research in technology development, Earth science, biology, human research and more, according to NASA.

The crew will be joined by four more astronauts on April 22nd that will arrive via Space-X. Those four will return to Earth on April 28th after completing the first long-duration commercial crew mission.

This is Vande Hei's second mission to the International Space Station, with the first coming in September of 2017 and lasting until February of 2018. He is scheduled to return to Earth in October.

According to NASA, the International Space Station surpassed its 20-year milestone of continuous human occupation. At this time, 243 people from 19 countries have visited the space station, conducting approximately 3,000 research investigations.

VIA NASA: Follow Vande Hei on Twitter throughout his mission and get the latest space station crew news, images and features by following @space_station, and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts and the space station blog.


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