Expedition 19 Crew Launches from Baikonur
Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Michael Barratt of the 19th International Space Station crew launched in their Soyuz TMA-14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:49 a.m. EDT Thursday to begin a six-month stay in space.
Less than 10 minutes after launch their spacecraft reached orbit. Its antennas and solar arrays were deployed shortly afterward.
With Padalka and Barratt is second-time spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi, flying under contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency. Simonyi previously flew to the station in April 2007 as a spaceflight participant with the Expedition 15 crew.
Simonyi will return to Earth with Expedition 18 crew members, Commander Mike Fincke and Flight Engineer Yury Lonchakov, in their Soyuz TMA-13 on April 7. Expedition 18 launched to the station Oct. 12.
Expedition 19 crew members will be welcomed by the Expedition 18 crew, including Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata, after their docking to the orbiting laboratory, scheduled for Saturday. Wakata launched to the station on the STS-119 mission of Discovery March 15. He joined Expedition 18 in progress and will provide Expedition 19 with an experienced flight engineer for its increment.
Padalka, a colonel in the Russian Air Force, will command the Expedition 19 mission and also serve as Soyuz commander. He previously served as commander of Expedition 9 in 2004. During Padalka's first stay at the International Space Station, he performed four spacewalks.
Barratt will serve as a flight engineer for Expedition 19. He served as lead crew surgeon for the first Expedition crew to the station from July 1998 until he was selected as an astronaut candidate. This will be his first spaceflight.
Wakata will serve as a flight engineer for Expeditions 18, 19 and 20. Wakata will be the first resident station crew member from JAXA. He will return to Earth on STS-127.