Three-nation crew blasts off in Kazakhstan for International Space Station

 

A Soyuz spacecraft carrying a Russian, an American and a Canadian has blasted off to the International Space Station (ISS), where the men are to spend half a year in orbit.

The Russian-built Soyuz TMA-07M roared off on time, at 1212 GMT, from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

"The crew are now safely in orbit. Congratulations," said the television channel of US space agency Nasa, which broadcast the launch.

On the crew's two-day trip to the ISS, Canadian Chris Hadfield is joined by US astronaut Tom Mashburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko.

They will join US astronaut Kevin Ford and Russians Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin, who have been manning the $100-billion, 15-nation research complex since October.

A brightly coloured toy clown from a popular Soviet-era TV show for children, serving as an indicator of weightlessness, started floating in the cabin when the spacecraft reached its preliminary orbit nine minutes into the flight.

"We are feeling well," the three-nation crew told Mission Control outside Moscow.

Hadfield will be the first Canadian to command the space station when Ford, Novitsky and Tarelkin complete their mission in March.

Hadfield has said he will play a Canadian-made guitar in space. Romanenko took a mouth-organ to orbit to support the "space band" led by the Canadian.

Romanenko's father Yuri, who flew into space three times, played a guitar in space when he once manned the Soviet-built Mir orbital complex for more than 10 months.

The docking, the 150th trip by Soyuz craft to the space station, is set for 21 December 21, the date interpreted by different groups as the end of days, because it marks the end of an age in a 5,125 year-old Maya calendar.

"If, despite all the arguments provided by scientists, this 'apocalypse' still takes place, the ISS crew will be the only surviving earthlings," Russian space agency Roscosmmos said in a press release. "Fortunately enough, this is just a fantasy."

Shortly after the docking, the six-men crew will celebrate several winter holidays in orbit; Christmas, the New Year and then Orthodox Christmas.

But the holidays will be followed by hard work, which for the incoming crew will include the unloading of several cargo ships due to arrive at the ISS, two space walks and about 150 scientific experiments.

Russia's space programme has suffered a series of humiliating setbacks in recent months, mostly involving unmanned missions such as satellite launches.

Since the retirement of the space shuttle fleet last year, the United States has relied on Russia's single-use Soyuz spacecraft, a version of the Vostok spaceship which took the world's first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into space in 1961.

NASA, which reportedly pays Russia $60 million for each astronaut taken to the ISS, is working with private companies to develop craft it hopes will be able to do the job by 2017.

Reuters

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there