The next crew of the International Space Station arrived at a central Asian spaceport today in advance of a planned Nov. 13 launch toward the orbiting outpost.
U.S. astronaut Dan Burbank and two Russian cosmonauts -- Anatoly Ivanishin and Anton Shkaplerov -- departed the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center outside Moscow earlier today and flew to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
"We've been looking forward to this day for a long time," Ivanishin told reporters prior to their departure from the Star City training facility.
The three will be the first to launch on a Soyuz FG rocket since a similar vehicle -- the Soyuz U rocket -- failed Aug. 24 during the ill-fated launch of a Russian Progress cargo carrier. A third-stage engine shutdown caused the failure. Both Soyuz rockets use the same third stage engine.
An investigatory commission blamed the failure on a contaminated propellant line. Fleetwide inspections of third stage engines were ordered. No problems were discovered, and a Soyuz U rocket propelled a Progress supply ship into orbit on Sunday.
The Progress is scheduled to arrive at the station at 7:40 a.m. EDT Wednesday. Live NASA TV coverage will be carried here in The Flame Trench starting at 7:15 a.m. that day. Click the NASA TV button on the right to activate our NASA TV viewer.
The Progress launch Sunday cleared the way for the launch of Burbank and his two cosmonaut colleagues at 11:14 p.m. Nov. 13. The three crewmates will spend the next two weeks making final preparations for a four-month expedition on the station. Thy are scheduled to arrive at the outpost on Nov. 16.
ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the NASA TV image of the departure of Dan Burbank (center), Anatoly Ivinishin (left) and Anton Shkaplerov (right) from the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center outside Moscow.