April 1, 2010

ISS-Bound Soyuz Launch Set For Friday

Preparations have begun for Friday's scheduled launch of a Soyuz rocket that will carry two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) for a six month mission.

Security was reportedly heavy at the Baikonur, Kazakhstan facility where NASA flight engineer Tracy Caldwell and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Korneinko were scheduled to depart shortly after 10:04am on Friday. The rocket which will carry the trio into space was transported to the facility via flatbed train, and shortly after its arrival, was secured in place by mechanical arms.

Caldwell, Skvortsov, and Korneinko will join Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA) commander Igor Kotov, NASA astronaut Timothy J. Creamer and Japan's Soichi Noguchi onboard the ISS, where they will deliver supplies and life support equipment, install additional research equipment, and repair the faltering water recovery system.

The NASA Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to launch on April 5 and arrive at the ISS less than a week after the Soyuz crew. That craft will also be carrying supplies and equipment for the station and her crew. The seven-person Discovery crew will also replace an external ammonia tank on the station and replace a Lightweight Adapter Plate Assembly (LWAPA) on the Columbus module.

The ISS is an internationally developed and funded research facility being assembled in low orbit above the Earth. Construction of the facility began in 1998 and was scheduled to be completed by next year. Participating in the project are NASA, the RKA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and the European Space Agency (ESA).


Image Caption: The Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft arrived by train to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, March, 31, 2010. The launch of the Soyuz spacecraft with Expedition 23 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov, Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko and NASA Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson is scheduled for Friday, April 2, 2010 at 12:04 a.m. Eastern. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls


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