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Station Crew Launches Aboard Soyuz
06.07.11
 
201106080003hq: Soyuz launch

The Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit:NASA/Carla Cioffi

Three new Expedition 28 flight engineers -- NASA astronaut Mike Fossum, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa -- launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft at 4:12 p.m. EDT on June 7 (2:12 a.m. June 8, Baikonur time) to begin a two-day journey to the International Space Station.

› View video of launch

The Soyuz spacecraft, under the command of Volkov, will dock to the Rassvet module on the Earth-facing side of the station at 5:22 p.m. on Thursday, June 9. After hatch opening, the trio will be welcomed aboard by their Expedition 28 crew mates, Commander Andrey Borisenko and Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Ron Garan.

The six-person crew will continue the uninterrupted presence of humans on the station since Nov. 2, 2000, conducting expanded scientific research and station maintenance activities.

Sergei Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa aboard Soyuz

Soyuz Commander Sergei Volkov (lower left) and Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa write notations in their manuals as the Soyuz TMA-02M climbs to orbit. Credit: NASA TV

The station residents also will welcome the crew of the last space shuttle flight, Atlantis' STS-135 mission, targeted to launch July 8. The shuttle will deliver critical supplies in the Italian-built Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module and support spacewalks by Fossum and Garan to retrieve a failed cooling system pump module, which Atlantis will return to Earth for analysis.

Garan, Borisenko and Samokutyaev, who launched to the station April 4, will return to Earth in September. Before departing, Borisenko will hand over command of the station to Fossum for Expedition 29, which begins when the Soyuz TMA-21 undocks.

NASA astronaut Dan Burbank and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin will join Fossum, Volkov and Furukawa to complete the Expedition 29 crew in September.

› Read more about Expedition 28