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Three Crew Members to Join Expedition 34 Aboard Space Station

Dec 20, 2012 06:16 AM EST

The Soyuz spacecraft, carrying three new crew members of Expedition 34, is on its way to the International Space Station.

Earlier on Wednesday, the spacecraft was launched at 7:12 a.m. EST (6:12 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. After spending two days orbiting the Earth, the spacecraft will be docked to the Rassvet module at 9:12 a.m. Friday, announced NASA.

NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn, Russian Federal Space Agency cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield will join the other three crew members of Expedition 34 aboard the space station, just in time to celebrate Christmas in space.

The crew members will be carrying out 110 experiments, besides doing maintenance work in the space station and exercising to keep their bodies fit, reports website.

"The space station is there for a purpose and that is to do science that can't be done on the surface of the Earth," quoted Hadfield as saying in a NASA interview. "That is the core purpose of the space station, and so our job, as the people on board, is to make sure that that science gets done. Everything else is sort of downstream of that."

Expedition 34 will be a six-member crew until March 2013, after which the three-member group of NASA's Kevin Ford (commander of Expedition 34), flight engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin, who began their mission on Oct.25, will undock from the Poisk module and return to Earth.

Hadfield will take over as commander of Expedition 35 from Ford in March until he and his colleagues return back in May 2013.

Three more members - NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Pavel Vinogradov will join Expedition 35 crew in March.

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