Soyuz Spacecraft Lifts Off With Three New Crew Bound For International Space Station
December 19, 2012

Soyuz Spacecraft Lifts Off With Three New Crew Bound For International Space Station

[Watch Video: New Trio Launches To Join Expedition 34]

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

After more than a week of final preparations, a new trio of astronauts successfully launched into the heavens Wednesday morning at 7:12 a.m. EST from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in freezing conditions. The launch, which occurred at 6:12 p.m. local time, carried Russia´s Soyuz spacecraft and three new members of Expedition 34 who will join the existing crew aboard the International Space Station in a few days time.

American astronaut Tom Marshburn, Russian cosmonaut and Roman Romanenko and Canadian Chris Hadfield (pictured above) will join Commander Kevin Ford, and Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin who have now been in orbit since late October. The trio is expected to dock its Soyuz TMA-07M craft to the Rassvet module on the Russian segment of the station at 8:12 a.m. on Friday, December 21.

About three hours after docking, the hatches should open and the newcomers will be officially greeted aboard the station by Commander Ford, becoming official Expedition 34 crew members. Hadfield will become Commander of Expedition 35 when Ford, Novitskiy and Tarelkin depart the station on March 15, 2013; Hadfield will also become the first Canadian to take command of the ISS.

Coverage of Friday´s docking and hatch opening procedures begin at 7:30 a.m. EST will be streamed via NASA TV.

Several Expedition 34 scientific experiments have been ongoing aboard the orbiting lab. The new trio will complement further research once they arrive. They will undergo human physiology testing, which includes further research into bone loss in space. The crews will continue research into physical sciences, Earth observations and other human research and technology investigations.

Notable investigations also include how fire behaves in space, which could help improve fuel efficiency and fire suppression methods both in space and on Earth. Also, the crew will investigate fluids that change physical properties in the presence of a magnet, which could lead to improvements in bridge and building designs to better protect against earthquake damage.