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New ISS crew launched aboard Soyuz


The Soyuz TMA-14 launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday, March 26, 2009. NASA photo

WASHINGTON (BNS): The Expedition 19 crew - NASA astronaut Michael Barratt, Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and spaceflight participant and US software engineer Charles Simonyi – was launched into space aboard a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, at 6:49 am CDT on Thursday. The crew is scheduled to dock at the space station at 8:14 am on Saturday.

Russian cosmonaut will serve as commander for Expeditions 19 and 20 aboard the station, while NASA astronaut will serve as a flight engineer. Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is the other crew member of Padalka and Barratt. The Japanese arrived at the station aboard shuttle Discovery on March 17.

For Simonyi, this is the second trip, the first being in April 2007. He is the first spaceflight participant, under a commercial agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency, and will spend 10 days in space. Simonyi will return to Earth on April 7 with Expedition 18 Commander Michael Fincke and Flight Engineer Yury Lonchakov, who have been in space since October 2008.

According to NASA, the Expedition 19 crew will continue science investigations and prepare for the arrival of the rest of the station’s first six-person contingent. “Roman Romanenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Frank De Winne of the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Bob Thirsk will be launched from Baikonur on May 27, arriving at the station on May 29. After all the astronauts are aboard, Expedition 20 will begin, ushering in an era of six-person station crews,” NASA said. For the first time the crew members will represent all five International Space Station partners, NASA added.

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