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Expedition 34 Crew Members on Way to Space Station

Oct 24, 2012 09:10 AM EDT

Russian Soyuz spacecraft, carrying three new crew members to the International Space Station, was successfully launched Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Flight Engineers Kevin Ford, Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin will orbit the Earth for two days and join the Expedition 33 crew aboard the ISS Thursday (Oct. 24). ISS is a research laboratory that is orbiting 250 miles above Earth.

The spacecraft will be docked to the Poisk module at 8:35 a.m. Thursday. The new three crew members will join Expedition 33 commander Sunita Williams and flight engineers Akihiko Hoshide and Yuri Malenchenko, announced NASA.

The three crew members, who are currently aboard the ISS, are busy doing their science and maintenance tasks. They have to prepare for the unberthing of the SpaceX Dragon capsule on Sunday (Oct. 28) and a spacewalk on Nov. 1 to repair a radiator ammonia leak.

Private capsule SpaceX Dragon carrying a resupply ship was launched to the ISS on Oct. 7. After spending three weeks at the ISS, the Dragon capsule will return to Earth with 1,673 pounds of ISS cargo and will splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California for recovery.

Dragon is the first commercial cargo craft to visit the station. It belongs to California based SpaceX, with whom NASA has signed a $1.6 billion deal to use 12 of their cargo flights for future missions.

Hoshide and Malenchenko will use the Canadian robotic arm, Canadarm2, to unberth and release Dragon capsule on Sunday. The three Expedition 33 crew members will return to Earth on Nov. 12.

Soon after their departure from ISS, Ford will take charge of the station as the commander of Expedition 34.

Three more crew members - Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko - will join Expedition 34 in December.

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