Why It's Taking Astronauts So Long to Get to the International Space Station

Crew will make 34 orbits of Earth to get to the International Space Station.

ByAlyssa Newcomb
September 02, 2015, 11:17 AM
PHOTO: Kazakhstan's cosmonaut Aydyn Aimbetov, left, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, center and  Denmark's astronaut Andreas Mogensen, members of the main crew of the expedition to the International Space Station (ISS) in Kazakhstan, Sept. 2, 2015.
Kazakhstan's cosmonaut Aydyn Aimbetov, left, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, center and Denmark's astronaut Andreas Mogensen, members of the main crew of the expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), speak with their relatives through a safety glass prior the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Sept. 2, 2015.
Dmitry Lovetsky/AP Photo

— -- Talk about taking the long way.

Three astronauts are en route to the International Space Station but first they'll have to do 34 orbits of Earth to get there.

The three-person team, which includes a Russian, a Dane and a Kazakh, blasted off today on board a Soyuz rocket on a two-day journey to reach the ISS. While astronauts have taken a direct six-hour route in recent years, the Russian Federal Space Agency said it decided to switch to the traditional route over security concerns after the space station adjusted its orbit in order to dodge space junk.

When the trio arrive on Friday, they'll bring the total number of astronauts at the International Space Station to nine. The Kazakh and the Dane are set to return to Earth on Sept. 12, along with Gennady Padalka, who is the current station commander and will hand off the duty to American astronaut Scott Kelly.

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