Soyuz TMA-03M launched successfully from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 14.16pm Amsterdam time today, carrying the next three crew members for the ISS.
The European Space Agency's Andre Kuipers, NASA's Don Pettit and Roscosmos Oleg Kononenko launched to complement the crew for Expedition's 30 and 31 aboard the International Space Station.
The spacecraft will presently orbit the Earth 36 times, executing three major engine burns, to be able to adjust its trajectory to meet the ISS on Friday at 14.43 Amsterdam time ( +1 GMT). The docking on Friday will be broadcast live on NASA-TV. The three astronauts will join the US Dan Burbank and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, who have been living on the station since November. All six expedition members will be there to greet the first ever commercial resupply from the US, when Elon Musk's SpaceX Dragon ship sets out for the ISS in February. There'll also be time for Kononenko and Shkaplerov to carry out external assembly and maintenance on the station during a six-hour spacewalk.
Burbank, Shkaplerov and Ivanishin are due back in March, and the second half of the crew will return to Earth in May.
André kuipers is the third Dutch born to enter space for his second mission (his first mission was Soyuz TMA-4 launched 19 April 2004 duration 11 day's). The first dutch born in space was Lodewijk van den Berg (launched aboard Space Shuttle Challenger on April 29, 1985 STS-51B.), at the time of his flight, Van den Berg was not a Dutch citizen, having been naturalized as US citizen.
The second Dutch-born astronaut and first Dutch citizen to have been to space is Wubbo Ockels (Space Shuttle Challenger on October 30, 1985 STS-61A, the last successful flight of the challenger).
During this 6-month PromISSe mission, André will conduct 57 experiments and around 15 from other Station partners, including human research, life sciences, physics, materials science, radiation research and technology demonstrations
His mission also features a strong educational aspect centred on the theme ‘Spaceship Earth’.
The lessons from space will educate children in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as teaching about the requirements for life on Earth.
As part of ‘Mission-X: Train Like an Astronaut’, André will invite thousands of students to perform physical exercises and classroom lessons to compete with teams around the world to become as fit as astronauts.
- Published in Space