BAIKONUR, December 14. /TASS/. The Soyuz spacecraft with the new crew onboard will be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) at 11:03am on December 15. The state commission at the Baikonur spaceport has approved the crew earlier today that includes Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra and European Space Agency’s Timothy Peake.
The Soyuz spacecraft will dock to the ISS at 5:23pm on December 15.
For Malenchenko, the upcoming flight will become the sixth in his career. Kopra has been to the orbit only once before while for Peake the flight will be the first one.
In a week Malenchenko will celebrate his 54th birthday. He was born in Ukraine, graduated from the Kharkov Higher Military Aviation School, and was enrolled as a cosmonaut in 1987.
During his third spaceflight in 2003 Malenchenko got married. The wedding ceremony took place on August 10 when the cosmonaut was in the orbit and his fiancee Russian American Ekaterina Dmitrieva was at the NASA Mission Control Center in Houston. The documents were signed by an American lawyer on behalf of the groom.
In 2007 one of Ukrainian TV channels broadcast Malenchenko’s fourth spaceflight live from the ISS. With the Ukrainian flag in the background, the cosmonaut wished viewers a Happy New Year and drank a transparent liquid from the bottle after saying a toast. "Pan Yuri, isn’t it real real horilka (vodka)?" a TV host asked him but he refused to answer.
The ISS crew is planned to return to the Earth on June 5. Thus, Malenchenko will spend 174 days in space. The total time in space will stand at 815 days coming in second after Gennady Padalka who has already spent a total of 879 days in space. In 2015 he surpassed the record of another Russian cosmonaut - Sergei Krikalev (803 days).