Clockwise from top: ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, NASA astronauts Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson, Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergei Ryazansky, NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik and Roscosmos cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin pose for a photo in the Russian section of the International Space Station. Together they are the Expedition 52/53 crew and all the humans orbiting Earth at this time.
The six are positioned around the flags of the nations that built and maintain the Station: USA, Russia, France, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Norway, The Netherlands, UK, Spain, Sweden, Denmark and Japan.
The orbital outpost circles Earth every 90 minutes and offers state-of-the-art facilities for research, allowing the astronauts to run experiments in weightlessness for many weeks and even years. Research opportunities are available to scientists from all over the world – there is no other laboratory like the International Space Station.
Next month Fyodor, Peggy and Jack will undock from the Station in their Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft and return to Earth, leaving Paolo, Randy and Sergei, who will become Expedition 53/54 when they are joined by a new trio: cosmonaut and Soyuz commander Alexander Misurkin, and NASA astronauts Mark VandeHei and Joseph Acaba.
Paolo is on his third visit to the Station, a five-month mission called Vita. Follow Paolo Nespoli and his mission via paolonespoli.esa.int