A Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut have arrived at the International Space Station, taking a toy dog for company.

Veteran Fyodor Yurchikhin and first-timer Jack Fischer arrived at the station after a six hour journey which began at 8.13am UK time.

Their furry friend began to float when they reached orbit nine minutes after blast off.

This is the first two-person launch to the ISS in more than a decade, with Russia scaling back its space station staffing until a much-delayed science laboratory is flown to the $100bn (£78bn) space station next year.

Mr Yurchikhin, 58, has made four space flights before but his NASA rookie crewmate is on his maiden voyage, and fears figuring out how to use the zero-gravity toilets aboard the ISS may be his biggest challenge.

It’s all about suction, it’s really difficult, Mr Fischer told NASA in an interview before the launch from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur cosmodrome.

You can’t just train for that on the ground, so I approach my space-toilet activities with respect, preparation and a healthy dose of sheer terror.

The 43-year-old might want to seek some advice from fellow NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who is going to receive an out-of-this-world call from President Donald Trump on Monday after beating a special record.

Ms Whitson, a station commander, is going to become the US astronaut who has spent the most cumulative time in space – surpassing the 534 days served by Jeff Williams.

Currently on her third long-duration mission, she already holds the record for the most spacewalks conducted by a female astronaut.

She will be occupying the third seat on the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft when Mr Yurchikhin and Mr Fischer return to Earth in September.

(c) Sky News 2017: Two-man space crew (and small toy dog) arrive at the ISS