Three astronauts are due to blast off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today for a six-hour flight to the International Space Station (ISS). They will be the first ISS crew members to make an expedited trip to the orbiting laboratory.
Chris Cassidy of NASA, along with Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), are scheduled to launch in their Soyuz spacecraft at 4.43pm EDT (8.43pm GMT).
Instead of taking the standard two days to reach and dock with the station, they will need only four orbits of Earth to reach the ISS. This flight will employ rendez-vous techniques used recently with three unpiloted Russian Progress cargo spacecraft, NASA said.
The crew is scheduled to dock with the station’s Poisk module, and hatches between the Soyuz and the ISS are scheduled to be opened about 90 minutes later.
Cassidy, Vinogradov and Misurkin will join Cmdr Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency, Tom Marshburn of NASA and Roman Romanenko of Roscosmos, who have been aboard the outpost since December.