NASA's next astronaut launching to space will break Scott Kelly's record

A Look Back at Scott Kelly's Spectacular Year Aboard the Space Station
A Look Back at Scott Kelly's Spectacular Year Aboard the Space Station

On Friday, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and two Russian cosmonauts will launch to the International Space Station, beginning a six-hour journey that will lead them to the orbiting laboratory and set Williams on a path to break a space record.

The six-month mission will bring Williams' total days in space to 534, edging out astronaut Scott Kelly — who set his record of 520 days earlier this year — to become the NASA astronaut with the most cumulative days spent in space.

This mission will mark Williams' third stint on the Space Station, setting another American record, according to NASA.

SEE ALSO: Astronaut Scott Kelly, who just returned from 340 days in space, will retire from NASA

See Scott Kelly as he returns to Earth:

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"I counted it up recently, and I think I've been on orbit at the Space Station with 45 different people over the years," Williams said during a NASA interview ahead of launch.

For his part, Kelly isn't upset that Williams is breaking his record so soon after Kelly came back down to Earth on March 1.

"These records are made to be broken," Kelly said after he came home from spending 340 straight days in space, the most of any American.

"I'm a big believer in pushing the envelope on this kind of stuff. I don't know when someone will have more than 340 days in space next, but hopefully it won't be too long."

Williams and cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka will launch to the station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:26 p.m. ET.

At the moment, NASA relies on Russian Soyuz crafts to bring astronauts to and from the Space Station, but that could change in the coming years.

Private spaceflight companies Boeing and SpaceX both hold contracts with NASA to eventually start flying astronauts to the laboratory in the next couple of years, assuming congressional funding comes through.

You can watch Williams, Ovchinin and Skripochka launch to the station in a NASA TV webcast starting at 4:30 p.m. ET, with the launch scheduled for 5:26 p.m. ET.

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