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MOSCOW, May 2 (Itar-Tass) —— The primary and backup crews of the long International Space Station expedition, the first this year, have left by two planes from Chkalovsky airport, located near Moscow, for Baikonur, the press secretary of the Mission Control Centre based near Moscow, Irina Rogova, told Itar-Tass.
Space crews traditionally fly by two planes. The plane with Russians Gennady Padalka, Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba took off from Chkalovsky airport at about 11:00 Moscow time. The Russian-American crew is expected to work aboard the station for four months and two weeks.
Following the first plane, the aircraft with the backup crew – Oleg Novitsky, Yevgeny Tarelkin and Kevin Ford took off at 11:06.
Crews are always carried by two planes. It is so since the time of the first human space mission. No incidents occurred on the Chkalovsky-Baikonur route in history. Nevertheless, all the passengers on the special flights, unlike ordinary civil flights, have parachutes.
Before leaving for the airport, cosmonauts say goodbye to their families and are photographed near the monument to Yuri Gagarin in the Star City.
The Soyuz TMA-04M fourth digital spacecraft is planned to be launched on May 15 at 06:58 Moscow time to carry the 31/32 expedition crew to the space station.