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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence