Thursday, April 01, 2010

Russian Soyuz preparing for launch

A Russian Soyuz will head to the International Space Station early Friday, carrying an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts to the space station.

Their arrival early Easter Sunday will boost the International Space Station's population to six. That number will more than double when space shuttle Discovery and its seven-person crew arrive next week.

California native Tracy Caldwell Dyson, a former shuttle pilot, and Russian Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko are scheduled to blast off at 12:04 a.m. Friday from Russia's storied Baikonur Cosmodrome in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan.

NASA TV will begin launch coverage at 11:15 p.m. Watch it live here by clicking on the NASA TV box at the right to launch the video player.

The crew is due to stay on board the space station until mid-September, leaving the lab just as Shuttle Discovery sets off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the last-ever shuttle flight.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Caldwell Dyson spoke of her sadness at seeing the retirement of the shuttle fleet.

"It's bitter, because we're saying goodbye to such a tremendous part of our space program," she said. "We've spent more time in that shuttle than we have in any vehicle and it has blessed with a space station today and many experienced astronauts."

The Soyuz crew will join Russian commander Igor Kotov, NASA astronaut Timothy J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi of Japan on board the station.

With the winding-down of the shuttle, the Soyuz — which launched the world's first satellite into space in 1957 — is set to take on the burden of carrying astronauts to and from the space station.

About the Image: U.S. astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson, left, Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov, center, and Mikhail Kornienko, right, pose for photographs following their news conference at the Russian-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, April 1, 2010. Credit: Associated Press

Associated Press contributed to this report.


Stephen C. Smith said...

Funny, if you believed the propagdandists smearing the Obama administration's proposed FY 2011 NASA budget, no American astronauts have ever flown on Soyuz and it's an outrage that Americans will be forced to fly on Soyuz once Shuttle is retired.

Of course, they fail to mention that Americans have been flying on Soyuz craft since 1995 and it was the Bush administration that cut the deal for Americans to fly on Soyuz after Shuttle retires, which was also decided by the Bush administration.

Anonymous said...

One short year from now :

"Live from Russia ! Two brave Americans who were formerly Astronauts have been selected in the lottery to join the Soysauce crew on a flight to their newly acquired space station formerly called the "ISS". The American space tourists will touch NOTHING while onboard the newly flagged Russian space station, but they will be able to take some nifty pictures and volunteer for specific experiments designed by some really nasty folks.

No need for sex in space, since the screwing of the space program already took place on earth...