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Russian Soyuz rocket launches 32 fish into orbit


A Russian spacecraft carrying three astronauts and 32 fish bound for the International Space Station launched today.


Bill Ingalls/NASA

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft was launched Tuesday carrying a three-man multinational crew and 32 small fish.

The rocket was launched from Kazakhstan with an American and two Russians aboard who are bound for the International Space Station.

"I spoke with the astronauts after they reached orbit," Russian Space Agency head Vladimir Popovkin told the Associated Press.

"They feel well. Everything went fine, despite the windy conditions."

The flight to the space station will last two full days.

Fox News reported that one of the Russian astronauts was given a toy hippo by his daughter before the launch in order to test whether the crew had entered a weightless environment.

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As for the 32 medaka fish, they will join an aquarium, called the Aquatic Habitat, within the space station for research purposes.

The new crew will have their work cut out for them.

According to CNET, new arrivals typically are given light work but these three will have to immediately unberth a cargo ship from the station for the precipitous descent back to Earth.

A few days later the team is scheduled to welcome another supply ship being launched from Kazakhstan.

Of the three astronauts only the American, Kevin Ford, has been to space before.