Astronauts set for extended ISS

2009-05-26 10:45

Baikonur - A Belgian, a Canadian and a Russian blast off for the International Space Station on Wednesday as Russia steps up its rocket launches to support a doubling of the station's crew.

The astronauts will lift off aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket at 16:34 (1034 GMT) from Russia's historic Baikonur cosmodrome on the Kazakh steppe.

They will hurtle into low Earth orbit and then make a gradual ascent to the station over two days, docking on Friday.

The voyage marks a doubling of the station's permanent crew from three to six and with it a rise in the frequency of manned flights aboard the Soyuz, a Soviet-designed rocket that originated in the late 1960s.

Belgian Frank de Winne, Canadian Robert Thirsk and Russian Roman Romanenko will join Russian Gennady Padalka, US astronaut Michael Barratt and Japan's Koichi Wakata aboard the station.

The station, which orbits 350 kilometres above Earth, has become a sophisticated platform for scientific experiments after the installation of a European laboratory last year and the arrival of a hi-tech Japanese lab, Kibo, which is currently being completed.

Effects of long-term space travel

A huge new solar array was installed earlier this year to give more power.

The station is also intended to test the effects of long-term space travel on humans, with a view to more ambitious travel to destinations such as Mars.

Amid a dizzying array of new technology, one feature new arrivals will have to get used to is a recycling facility installed this month that enables astronauts to drink their recycled urine.

In one study to be carried out on the station Thirsk, 55, will take medication usually prescribed to geriatric patients to counter the effects of bone loss in space.

However Romanenko, who is following in the footsteps of an astronaut father, stressed plans to expand the station's dining table at a news conference earlier this month.

"Lunch is a ritual process in orbit," he said at Russia's cosmonaut training centre, Star City.

"With our arrival we will for the first time be six. So we will need to engineer another table," he said.

At the same news conference Thirsk promised to contribute Canadian specialities including caribou meat to the station's menu.

Sole means of reaching ISS

However no paying "tourists" - who have contributed extra revenue for Russia in recent years - will be present on Wednesday's flight.

Russia is stepping up the number of Soyuz launches from two in previous years to four this year to meet the demands of the ISS and has said there may be no tourists for some time.

The Soyuz is set to become the sole means of reaching the ISS for a few years as the United States is due to take its somewhat troubled shuttles out of commission in 2010.

The current mission will be the first time astronauts from all five of the partners in the ISS - Canada, the European Space Agency (Esa), Japan, Russia and the United States - are in orbit together.

Even as the six-person ISS crew put the finishing touches on their orbiting home, international space agencies are looking toward the next step in space exploration: travel to Mars.

NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
 

Parties serve urgent application over Tlakula

Opposition parties have filed an urgent application in the Electoral Court over their demand that IEC chair Pansy Tlakula must resign, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa says.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Cape Town - 18:56 PM
    Road name: N1 Outbound
    ACCIDENT obstructing two lanes at the M5 Koeberg Interchange - DELAYS from Lower Church Street
  • Thursday Kalk Bay - 18:47 PM
    Road name: Main Road Southbound
    HEAVY DELAYS between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia N9

The Nokia N9 has a beautiful one-piece, unibody design where...

From R2899.85

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be required to travel or get information for your job. This may be restricting in some way or something may slow things...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.