Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Soyuz readied for launch Wednesday

Commander Roman Romanenko (RU) (l), Robert Thirsk (CA) (c), and Frank De Winne (BLG) efore launch to the International Space Station
(Credit: Roscosmos Energia)

The Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft, mounted atop the same launch pad used by Yuri Gagarin at the dawn of the space age, is scheduled for takeoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:34:49 a.m. EDT.

Soyuz commander Roman Romanenko, son of a Russian cosmonaut, will be strapped into the center seat, flanked by European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne of Belgium and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk, a shuttle veteran.

"I can't think of three finer gentlemen to help us realize our dream of six permanent crew in orbit," Mike Suffredini, NASA's space station program manager, told the Soyuz crew Tuesday.

Assuming an on-time liftoff, Romanenko plans to oversee an automated approach and docking to an Earth-facing port on the front end of the space station's Russian Zarya module at 8:36 a.m. Friday. Waiting to welcome their new crewmates aboard will be Expedition 20 commander Gennady Padalka, NASA flight engineer Michael Barratt, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.

William Harwood cnet has the story HERE.