Monday, December 19, 2011

Soyuz Rocket Rolled Out For Launch Wednesday

A Russian Soyuz rocket is perched on a Kazakh launch pad today after rolling out in advance of the planned launch later this week of a new International Space Station crew.

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, U.S. astronaut Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers of the European Space Agency are scheduled to blast off at 8:16 a.m. EST Wednesday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Live NASA TV coverage will begin here in The Flame Trench at 7:30 a.m. that day. Click the NASA TV box on the right to launch our NASA TV viewer and live coverage.

Kononenko will be in command of the Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft flying atop the rocket. The three crewmates are members of the 30th expedition to the station since the outpost opened for business in November 2000. The complex has been continuously staffed by rotating crews since then.

U.S. astronaut Dan Burbank and two Russian cosmonauts -- Anatoly Ivanishin and Anton Shkaplerov -- already are onboard the station. Burbank and his crew launched in late November.

Kononenko, Pettit and Kuipers are scheduled to arrive at the station at 10:22 a.m. Friday. Live coverage of the docking will begin at 9:45 a.m. A hatch-opening and welcome ceremony is scheduled at 1 p.m. that day.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the NASA photo of the Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft as it rolled out by train on its way to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan early today. Photo credit: AP Photo/NASA/Carla Cioffi.

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