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MOSCOW, November 11. /TASS/. The main crew of the next expedition to the International Space Station (ISS) has departed for the Baikonur space center, in Kazakhstan, to continue training before the launch, Russia’s Cosmonaut Training Center told TASS on Tuesday.
“In line with the plan, approved by the leadership of the Cosmonaut Training Center, the main crew flew to Baikonur Cosmodrome today and the backup crew will fly there tomorrow,” the center said.
The main crew comprises Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, European astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and NASA astronaut Terry Virts. The backup crew consists of Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren and Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui.
Both crews previously departed for Baikonur on the same day. The center gave no details on the changes to the schedule of the crews.
The launch of Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft with ISS-42/43 mission crew onboard is scheduled for November 24. The crew is expected to spend a total of 169 days in space.
Among the main crew members, only Cristoforetti has no space flight experience. Both Shkaplerov and Virts had one mission in their carrier. The US astronaut served as Shuttle Endeavour pilot, and will fly onboard Russia’s Soyuz for the first time.
As for the backup crew, Russian cosmonaut Kononenko has already had two space flights. For the US and Japanese astronauts, this will be the first space mission.