Soyuz astronauts blast off for International Space Station

15 May 2012

Soyuz TMA-04M capsule blasts off this morning. Image courtesy of NASA

Two Russians and one American are aboard the Soyuz spacecraft that successfully launched this morning to head to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Soyuz TMA-04M capsule is carrying Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joe Acaba.

The spacecraft launched aboard the Soyuz FG rocket at 7.01am Moscow time today from Kazakhstan’s Baikanur cosmodrome, the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

Less than 10 minutes after launch, their Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft reached orbit, deploying its antennas and solar arrays.

The spacecraft is expected to dock on the ISS on Thursday.

The three crewmates had been completing their mission training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, up to now.

Once they arrive at the ISS, they will be greeted by the three astronauts in situ at the orbiting laboratory: Commander Oleg Kononenko and flight engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuiper. They’ll be leaving the ISS on 1 July.

Padalka, Revin and Acaba are planning to stay at the ISS until 17 September.

NASA said today that Acaba previously visited the station in March 2009 as a mission specialist for the STS-119 crew aboard the now-retired space shuttle Discovery. For Revin, however, it is his first voyage into space.

The space agency also confirmed that the Soyuz mission marks Padalka’s fourth long-duration spaceflight and his third aboard the ISS.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic