BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan, December 19 (Itar-Tass) — A Soyuz manned spaceship with a new international crew on board is to blast off from here on Wednesday afternoon on the way to the International Space Station (ISS).
"The launch of the carrier rocket Soyuz-FG with the manned spaceship Soyuz TMA-07 attached to it from Gagarin's launch pad is scheduled for 16:12, Moscow time," a cosmdrome official told Itar-Tass.
The spaceship will be piloted by Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko. He and his colleagues - Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and American Thomas Mashburn - are to join Friday the other members of the crew who are working aboard the ISS.
The expedition is to do a large amout of work, including two spacewalks. The research programme in the Russian segment alone includes 37 experiments. The crewmembers are also to receive and unload a resupply spacecraft.
Crewmembers intend to devote their spare time to music, in particular. All the three are fond of playing guitar. Chris Hadfield is going to record several songs performed in orbit.
Military and civilian aircraft and helicoptes will see to the safety of the spaceship's flight along the entire flight path. The liftoff is to be broadcast live by the Russia 24 TV news channel. This tradition was introduced by Russian television in September 2006 when the ISS-14 crew and the first female space tourist Anousheh Ansari set out on the space journey to the ISS.
The Soyuz TMA-07 is to dock with the ISS on December 21 at 18:12.