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New Space Station Crew Readies for Launch on Russian Rocket

RIA Novosti

12:48 25/03/2014

MOSCOW, March 25 (RIA Novosti) – The launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket carrying three new crewmembers to the International Space Station has been scheduled for early Wednesday morning, the Russian space agency Roscosmos said Tuesday.

The Soyuz-FG rocket will lift off at 1:17 a.m. Moscow time from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan at the same launch pad that hosted Yury Gagarin's historic first manned spaceflight in 1961, Roscosmos said.

The Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft carrying Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev as well as NASA astronaut Steven Swanson will follow an express flight path and dock with the station just six hours later.

The new crew is to conduct an extensive scientific program aboard the station and maintain a space blog of their daily life, in addition to overseeing maintenance operations including unloading a Russian Progress cargo vehicle and coordinating the docking of the European ATV-5 resupply craft.

The crew will also manually "launch" a Peruvian microsatellite during an upcoming spacewalk, by throwing it overboard by hand.

A spokesperson for the Russian military said 18 aircraft with search and rescue crews were preparing for the launch as a routine safety precaution.

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