October 8, 2010

New Station Crew Members Launch From Kazakhstan

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka launched to the International Space Station aboard their Soyuz TMA-01M spacecraft at 6:10 p.m. CDT, Thursday, (5:10 a.m. Friday local time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Kelly, Soyuz commander Kaleri and Skripochka are scheduled to dock with their new home at 7:02 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 9. They will join Expedition 25 crewmates Doug Wheelock, a NASA astronaut and the station's commander, NASA astronaut Shannon Walker and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, who have been aboard the station since June 17.

On Saturday, coverage of the Soyuz docking will begin on NASA Television at 6:30 p.m. NASA TV will return at 9:30 p.m. for coverage of the hatches opening and the welcoming ceremony aboard the orbiting laboratory. For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

The six-person crew will usher in the next decade of continuous human presence on the station, continuing scientific research and station maintenance activities. The station residents will welcome the crew of the last flight of space shuttle Discovery on the STS-133 mission, targeted to launch Nov. 1. The shuttle will deliver critical supplies and the Permanent Multipurpose Module that will provide additional storage for the station crew, and experiments may be conducted inside it.

Yurchikhin and Skripochka are scheduled to conduct a spacewalk in Russian Orlan suits in mid-November to work on science experiments and hardware on the station's Russian segment.

Wheelock, Walker and Yurchikhin, who launched to the station on June 15, are scheduled to return to Earth on Nov. 29. Before departing, Wheelock will hand over command of the station to Kelly for Expedition 26, which begins when the Soyuz TMA-19 undocks Nov. 29.

NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, Russian cosmonaut Dimitry Kondratyev and European Space Agency astronaut Páolo N©spoli will join Kelly, Kaleri and Skripochka in orbit to complete the Expedition 26 crew. Their Soyuz currently is scheduled to launch Dec. 13 and will dock to the station on Dec. 15.

Expedition 25 crew member Walker is blogging about her experiences in orbit. To read her blog and more information about the space station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station

To follow Twitter updates from Expedition 25 crew member Wheelock and Expedition 25/26 crew member Kelly, visit: http://twitter.com/Astro_Wheels and http://twitter.com/StationCDRKelly


Image Caption: The Soyuz TMA-01M rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:10 p.m. EDT on Thursday, October 7, 2010 (5:10 a.m. Friday in Kazakhstan). Expedition 25 Soyuz Commander Alexander Kaleri of Russia, NASA Flight Engineer Scott J. Kelly and Russian Flight Engineer Oleg Skripochka are due to arrive at the International Space Station on Saturday, October 9. Credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi