December 15, 2010

Expedition 26 Crew Successfully Launches From Kazakhstan

The newest International Space Station (ISS) crew has successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday.

The crew included NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman, Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli.

The team will join up with Expedition 26 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skipochka aboard the ISS.

NASA Television will air docking coverage on Friday of the hatches opening and a welcoming ceremony aboard the orbiting laboratory. 

The six-person crew will continue scientific research, perform station maintenance and welcome several visiting vehicles.

Kondratyev and Skripochka will conduct two spacewalks in January and February, during which they will install an antenna to complete an information transfer system that sends large computer files to and from the station.

The two spacewalkers will also perform work on the outside of the Russian station modules.

The Expedition 26 crew is expecting the arrival of three resupply vehicles in January and February, along with a visit from Discovery's planned STS-133 mission.

Kelly, Kaleri and Skripochka are expected to return back to Earth in March, after handing out command of the ISS to Kondratyev for Expedition 27.


Image Caption: The Soyuz TMA-20 rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010 carrying Expedition 26 Soyuz Commander Dmitry Kondratyev of Russia, NASA Flight Engineer Cady Coleman of the U.S. and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli to the International Space Station. (Photo Credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi)


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