Astronauts drink tea in Moscow before December blast-off

December 1, 2010
A Soyuz TMA-01M spacecraft is transported to its launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in October 2010. Three Russian and NASA astronauts drank tea Wednesday with the head of the Russian space agency in Moscow as they prepared to blast off later this month to the International Space Station (ISS).

Three Russian and NASA astronauts drank tea Wednesday with the head of the Russian space agency in Moscow as they prepared to blast off later this month to the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman, Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev and Paolo Nespoli of the are to travel to Baikonur in Kazakhstan on Friday and blast off on December 15.

The launch encountered problems when the that is to transport the astronauts to the ISS was damaged while being shipped by rail to Baikonur.

Roskosmos chief Anatoly Perminov said Wednesday that the spacecraft had been thoroughly checked and that some components had been replaced.

The last launch at Baikonur in October was attended by convicted spy Anna Chapman, a member of the spy ring involved in a high-profile swap with the United States in the summer.

The tea-drinking ceremony at Roskosmos's office in central Moscow is a long-standing tradition, during which astronauts chat to Perminov and journalists.

The flight will be the first time in space for Kondratyev, 41, while Coleman has already taken part in two space missions and Nespoli has been in space once.

Italian Nespoli, 53, towers over most at 1.88 metres (six foot two), but still meets the height requirements, the space agency chief said.

"He just needs to get a haircut," Perminov joked.

Petite Coleman, 49, argued that she ought to be able to bring her son along, since she weighed 40 kilograms (88 pounds) less than Nespoli.

"My son asked me to find out whether he could fly with me to space, since he weighs 37 kilograms, minus his space suit" she told Perminov, speaking in Russian.

Perminov turned down the suggestion, but said Coleman's lower weight did allow her one perk. "You can now take more food on the flight," he promised.

Explore further: Russian cargo spacecraft nearing ISS

Related Stories

Russian cargo spacecraft nearing ISS

June 17, 2005

MOSCOW, June 17 (UPI) -- A Russian cargo spacecraft has been launched into orbit successfully and will reach the International Space Station Saturday, Russian space officials said.

Russia leads 2006 space launches

December 26, 2006

The Russian Federal Space Agency said the country was the 2006 leader in space launches, accounting for 45 percent of craft sent into space this year.

Happy New Year for astronauts

January 1, 2007

The director of Russia's Federal Space Agency wished the crew of the International Space station a happy New Year.

Russian Soyuz spacecraft damaged: engineer

October 5, 2010

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft due to launch in December suffered damage to its container in transit, its chief constructor said Tuesday in the latest hitch to the country's space programme.

Recommended for you

The hottest white dwarf in the Galaxy

November 25, 2015

Astronomers at the Universities of Tübingen and Potsdam have identified the hottest white dwarf ever discovered in our Galaxy. With a temperature of 250,000 degrees Celsius, this dying star at the outskirts of the Milky ...

Hubble captures a galactic waltz

November 26, 2015

This curious galaxy—only known by the seemingly random jumble of letters and numbers 2MASX J16270254+4328340—has been captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope dancing the crazed dance of a galactic merger. The ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.