American and Russian arrive at International Space Station

A Soyuz space capsule delivered an American astronaut making his first space flight and a veteran Russian cosmonaut to the International Space Station on Thursday.

Whitson's stay at the space outpost was also recently extended for an additional three months.

A scaled-down, two-man US-Russian crew blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday (April 20) for a six-hour ride to the International Space Station, a NASA TV broadcast showed.

Veteran Fyodor Yurchikhin and first-timer Jack Fischer arrived at the station after a six hour journey which began at 8.13am United Kingdom time. Russia's space program has chose to reduce the overall number of crew members it flies to the station from six per year to four in order to lower Russia's ongoing station-servicing costs. About two hours later, hatches between the Soyuz capsule and station opened.

Expedition 51 crewmembers Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos (left) and Jack Fischer of NASA (right) answer questions from the press at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Facility in Star City, Russia.

The US astronaut said he doubted the major task he faces in his 1 trip into space will be learning how to practice the space toilet at zero-gravity. They will launch in a Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on April 20.

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Thus the overall station crew complement of astronauts and cosmonauts increases to five - from the US, Russia and France - representing their respective space agencies and countries. The two join Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson of NASA and Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency).

Fischer and Yurchikhin will spend more than four months aboard the orbiting space station before also returning to Earth in September.

Peggy has broken all sorts of records in her space travel and is about to break another one on Monday when she surpasses 534-day record for cumulative time spent in space by a USA astronaut.

The International Space Station is the largest structure in space ever built by humans.

Both astronauts arrived on the $100 billion space station as per the scheduled time at 9:23 AM EDT.

"It came from the Argonauts, the seafaring explorers [from Greek mythology] and we are the explorers of space", said Yurchikhin, whose call sign for the flight is "Olympus".

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