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December 19, 2011
Station Crew Set To Launch To A New Home For The Holidays

HOUSTON - Just in time for the holidays, the residents of the International Space Station will welcome three new crew members. NASA Flight Engineer Don Pettit, Russian Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers of the Netherlands are set to launch in their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:16 a.m. CST on Wednesday, Dec. 21 (7:16 p.m. local time).

NASA Television will air video of prelaunch activities at 5:45 a.m. and provide live coverage of the launch beginning at 6:30 a.m.

On Friday, Dec. 23, the trio will dock to the Rassvet module of the station at 9:22 a.m. The new crew will join station Commander Dan Burbank of NASA and Russian Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, who have been aboard the orbital laboratory since mid-November. NASA TV will provide live coverage beginning at 8:45 a.m. Hatch opening and the holiday welcoming ceremony will occur about three hours later.

Burbank has discussed what it will be like to spend the holidays in his home away from home, 240 miles above the Earth. Video is available online at:


Space station sighting opportunities are available across the United States this week, mostly in the northern third of North America, including Alaska. To find sighting details by city, visit:


NASA TV's scheduled coverage for launch includes (all times Central):

Wednesday, Dec. 21
5:45 a.m.  - Video file feed of the crew prelaunch launch day activities in Baikonur
6:30 a.m.  - Launch coverage (launch at 7:16 a.m.), including launch replays
9:30 a.m. - Video file of prelaunch and launch video b-roll and postlaunch interviews
Friday, Dec. 23
8:45 a.m. - Docking coverage (docking at 9:22 a.m.) followed by the post-docking news conference from Mission Control in Korolev, Russia
11:45 a.m. - Hatch opening and welcoming ceremony (hatch opening scheduled at 12:20 p.m.)
2 p.m.  - Video file of docking, hatch opening and welcoming ceremony

For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling information, visit:


For International Space Station information, visit:


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Michael Curie
Headquarters, Washington











































Kelly Humphries
Johnson Space Center, Houston


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