Tuesday, June 07, 2011

New crew sets sail for space station


A cosmonaut and two astronauts -- including American Mike Fossum -- are on their way to the International Space Station after a 4:12 p.m. EDT blastoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Fossum, Russian Sergei Volkov and Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa were strapped into the middle module of a Soyuz spacecraft as roared from the same pad that launched Yuri Gagarin on the first human spaceflight just over 50 years ago. 

Four liquid-fueled strap-on boosters and a core second-stage engine ignited to push the 162-foot-tall, 680,000-pound Soyuz booster off the pad in the early morning hours local time.

"Everything is OK on board," Volkov radioed early in the ascent.

The trip to orbit takes about nine minutes. The strap on boosters separate about two minutes into the flight, the core booster three minutes later and the third stage around the nine-minute mark.

The crew was scheduled to arrive at the station Thursday afternoon to join three Expedition 28 crewmates.

The spaceflight is the third for Fossum, a veteran of two shuttle flights; the second for Volkov, the son of a cosmonaut and a former station commander; and the first for Furukawa, a former surgeon who will be Japan's third long-duration space traveler.

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