Canadian NASA astronaut blasts off for space station

A NASA astronaut with ties to Canada launched aboard a Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station today on a visit that will last nearly six months.
The Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft carrying the crew formed of astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of the U.S and crewmate Oleg Artemyev of Russia blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan March 21, 2018. (Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

A NASA astronaut with ties to Canada blasted off for the International Space Station today on a visit that will last nearly six months.

Andrew "Drew" Feustel, who has dual Canada-U.S. citizenship, blasted off at 1:44 p.m. ET Wednesday with fellow NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev.

U.S. astronaut Andrew Feustel, member of the main crew to the International Space Station (ISS), attends a news conference in Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Tuesday, March 20, 2018. This will be Feustel's third flight into space, and his second to the space station where he will also take over as commander in June. (Dmitri Lovetsky/Associated Press)

The trio launched atop a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan — eight months before Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques heads off to the orbiting space laboratory in November for a six-month stay.

The Michigan-born Feustel met his future wife, Indira, a speech pathologist from eastern Ontario, at Indiana's Purdue University.

They married and came to Canada, and Queen's University says he completed a PhD in geological sciences at the university in Kingston, Ont., in the 1990s.

The Queen's Gazette says their two children Ari and Aden, were born in Kingston and that the family still has ties to the city.

It will be Feustel's third flight into space, and his second to the space station where he will also take over as commander in June.

In a recent Facebook posting, Feustel said his two boys were both born on the same date two years apart: April 26.

A NASA astronaut biography says Feustel began his astronaut training when he reported to the Johnson Space Center in Houston in August 2000.