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New crew on course for space station

RIA Novosti

18:26 21/12/2011

BAIKONUR SPACE CENTER (Kazakhstan), December 21 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft carrying a new crew to the International Space Station separated from the Soyuz-FG rocket and entered an intermediary orbit on Wednesday, a Federal Space Agency official said.

The spacecraft, which lifted off from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan at 5:16 p.m. Moscow time, is to dock with the ISS on Friday.

The new crew - NASA astronaut Don Pettit, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers - will increase the ISS crew to six and will spend 147 days aboard the station.

They will carry out about 40 scientific experiments in orbit.

The mission's program also includes the docking of five freighters from different states: two Russian Progress spacecraft, the European unmanned cargo resupply spacecraft ATV-003 Edoardo Amaldi and two U.S. freighters. ISS crewmembers will also conduct a spacewalk.

The scientific program features more than a hundred experiments, 71 of them being part of the Russian scientific program.

Pettit, Kononenko and Kuipers will join Expedition 30 commander Dan Burbank, Soyuz TMA-22 commander Anton Shkaplerov and flight engineer Anatoly Ivanishin, who arrived at the station on November 13.

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