BAIKONUR (Kazakhstan), March 25. /ITAR-TASS/. The first this year Soyuz manned spacecraft with an international crew will be launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome to the International Space Station (ISS) early on Wednesday, Moscow time.
“The start of the Soyuz-FG carrier rocket with the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft from the first, Gagarin launch pad of Baikonur, is scheduled for 01:17 MSK on March 26,” sources at the southern spaceport told Itar-Tass.
The spacecraft will be piloted by Russian cosmonaut Aleksander Skvortsov. He and his colleagues - Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev and NASA astronaut Steven Swanson - on the same day will join the ISS crewmembers in orbit.
The expedition has to do a large amount of work. It will spend about 169 days in orbit. During this time the crew will receive several cargo spacecraft, will conduct an extensive scientific research programme that provides for 49 Russian experiments and some 170 American experiments. In addition, during a spacewalk that is planned for August 2014, the Russian crewmembers will launch a Peruvian satellite.
Planes and helicopters of civil and military aviation will be on duty along the Soyuz TMA-12M flight trajectory in case of its emergency landing.
The launch of the spacecraft will be broadcast live on the Rossiya 24 news TV channel. This tradition appeared on Russian television in September 2006 when the crew of the ISS-14 expedition and the first space tourist, Anousheh Ansari, were launched into space.