A former Minneapolis doctor is enjoying the view 250 miles above the earth after he successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) Wednesday.
Dr. Kjell Lindgren was one of three astronauts who made the journey in a Soyuz spacecraft to join the ISS crew as part of a NASA Expedition that launched from Kazakhstan.
Upon entering, Dr. Lindgren became only the 217th person to board the ISS, where he will remain until late December after contributing to "experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science," according to NASA's blog.
The doctor completed his medical residency at Hennepin County Medical Center's emergency department in Minneapolis, where he was also the chief resident, according to HCMC.
His medical supervisor while at HCMC was Dr. Doug Brunette, whom Dr. Lindgren invited to watch the launch.
Writing in a blog for HCMC, Dr. Brunette described the launch as "beautiful," saying: "Not a cloud in the sky. The ISS passed directly overhead, and 30 seconds later the rocket lit up to go and chase it. Deafening sound, lit up the pitch black sky, physically rattled your chest."
He also reveals that Lindgren sent him a personal email before the launch, which said: "He specifically stated he is extremely grateful for the support and interest that HCMC has demonstrated during these last few months, and considers himself humbled and privileged to have trained at HCMC, and thanks everyone for their support."
Dr. Lindgren served as flight engineer on the mission, which was originally due to launch on May 25, but was put back so further checks could be done after an unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft failed to reach the ISS on April 30.
"I feel so honored that Kjell asked me to be there," Dr. Brunette said. "Of course it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, but to see my former resident – whom I now consider a friend and colleague – fulfill his dreams of being an astronaut, it’s just so exciting."
Dr. Lindgren recorded a video before his departure, thanking his "Hennepin family" for helping him get where he is, saying: "It's because of you that I am standing on the threshold of a dream come true."
NASA discovers 'Earth 2.0'
Following on from the spectacular new images of Pluto released last week, NASA has made another big announcement Thursday thanks to its Kepler telescope.
The BBC reports that the telescope has found Kepler-452b, which has been dubbed "Earth 2.0" because it shares many characteristics with Earth, such as its distance from a star that's similar to our sun.
NASA says it is the latest finding from the Kepler mission to find "another Earth" and could be the closest planet found so far resembling ours because it's much smaller than other potentially habitable planets found so far, even though the planet's radius is 60 percent larger than Earth.
"We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment," said Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead.
The Kepler-452 system is located 1,400 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, NASA says.