Three-man Soyuz crew departs for space station

May 15, 2012 By PETER LEONARD , Associated Press
In a photo provided by NASA the Soyuz TMA-04M rocket launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 carrying Expedition 31 Soyuz Commander Gennady Padalka, NASA Flight Engineer Joseph Acaba and Flight Engineer Sergei Revin to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/NASA, Bill Ingalls)

(AP) -- A three-man crew blasted off from a space center in southern Kazakhstan Tuesday morning on board a Russian-made Soyuz craft for a four-and-half-month stay at the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba and Russian cosmonauts and Sergei Revin set off from the Baikonur facility as scheduled at 9:01 a.m. local time (0301 GMT).

Russia's space agency says the craft is due to dock with the Thursday morning Moscow time and will join the three astronauts currently staying at the orbiting laboratory.

The crew, which is being commanded by retired 53-year old Russian Air Force Col. Padalka, will immediately get to work preparing for the arrival next week of privately owned SpaceX's Dragon Capsule. It will be the first time a private company has launched space station supplies.

The space station is currently occupied by Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Don Pettit and Holland's .

Padalka is a seasoned space traveler, having spent a total of 585 days in space on three previous missions on board the now-defunct Mir station and the current . Inglewood, California-native Acaba, who turns 45 on Thursday, on the day that Soyuz is due to dock, makes his second venture into space after his maiden orbital voyage on the shuttle in 2009. Revin, 46, is making his first trip to space.

Until NASA either brings a new craft online or private companies are able to arrange manned trips to the orbiting station, the Soviet-designed will remain the only means to deliver crews to the orbiting outpost.

The Russian space program has been blighted by a string of technical glitches in the recent past, raising questions over its dependability.

Tuesday's launch had been pushed back by two months due to depressurization of the spacecraft's descent module during the ground testing phase. It was the second significant postponement of a manned Russian launch in the space of a year.

A Russian Mars moon probe crashed to Earth in January in what the nation's space agency described as the result of cosmic radiation.

That came only weeks after the crash of a communications satellite and the crash in August of a supply ship destined for the space station.

Explore further: Computer model shows moon's core surrounded by liquid and it's caused by Earth's gravity

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA says Russian space woes no worry

Feb 02, 2012

(AP) -- NASA says it is still confident with the quality of Russian manned rockets, despite an embarrassing series of glitches and failures in the Russian space program.

Russian cargo ship launched to space station

Oct 30, 2011

A Russian cargo ship was launched successfully to the International Space Station on Sunday, clearing the way for the next manned mission and easing concerns about the station's future after a previous failed launch.

Russian cargo spacecraft nearing ISS

Jun 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.

Russian spacecraft delivers 3 to orbiting station

Dec 25, 2011

A Soyuz spacecraft safely delivered a Russian, an American and a Dutchman to the International Space Station on Friday, restoring the permanent crew to six members for the first time since September.

Recommended for you

Titan offers clues to atmospheres of hazy planets

12 hours ago

When hazy planets pass across the face of their star, a curious thing happens. Astronomers are not able to see any changes in the range of light coming from the star and planet system.

Having fun with the equation of time

12 hours ago

If you're like us, you might've looked at a globe of the Earth in elementary school long before the days of Google Earth and wondered just what that strange looking figure eight thing on its side was.

The source of the sky's X-ray glow

Jul 27, 2014

In findings that help astrophysicists understand our corner of the galaxy, an international research team has shown that the soft X-ray glow blanketing the sky comes from both inside and outside the solar system.

User comments : 0