Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Station Crew Set for Liftoff in Hours

A Soyuz-TM prepares for Thursday's Expedition 19 launch.

On the horizon this morning will be the launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstanon, on a mission to deliver a new crew to the orbiting international space station.

Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, Expedition 19 commander, and NASA astronaut Michael Barratt, along with veteran space tourist Charles Simonyi, are scheduled to lift-off aboard the Soyuz TM-14, today at 7:49 am EDT. will have LIVE launch coverage of the Soyuz's flight beginning at 7 AM EDT tomorrow.

At about 7:05 am EDT, the crew will walk up and begin to board their spacecraft. The walkway and stairs are the same one's cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin used in 1961 when he becam the first human to fly in space.

Following two days of orbital altitude maneuvering to catch up with the space station, the Soyuz will dock to the Russian docking port on Saturday morning at 9:14 am EDT.

The crew of Expedition 19 will join Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who arrived aboard the station on March 17th, and will replace the current E-18 crew which were launched to the station last October 12th, also from
Baikonur Cosmodrome. The Expedition 18 crew of astronaut Michael Fincke, Russian Federal Space Agency cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov and Charles Simonyi will undock on April 7th from the beautiful orbital complex and land several hours later.

Expedition 19 will stay aboard the station until October 11th.

[note: journalist Charles Atkeison emailed Charles Simonyi a few questions this morning and we are awaiting his reply.]

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