NASA astronaut Terry Virts, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will launch to the International Space Station on Sunday. NASA will have a live stream of the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan beginning at 3 p.m. EST, with the launch itself set for 4:01 p.m.
The three Expedition 42 crew members will join NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore and cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova, who are currently aboard the ISS. Wilmore will serve as the expedition commander. While the three astronauts on Earth prepare to launch toward the Soyuz spacecraft, the three astronauts already in space are conducting experiments involving the first 3D printer in space and plant growth in space.
For the 3D Printing In Zero-G Technology Demonstration (3D Printing In Zero-G) experiment, ISS crew members are testing the feasibility of the technology in space. A 3D printer can be a versatile tool for crew members as it could manufacture spare parts and reduce the need for additional cargo to be sent during resupply missions. The Seedling-2 Growth experiment examines the growth and development of plants in microgravity. The ability to grow plants in space could be an important component of future manned missions.
The Expedition 42 launch will also include some interesting cargo. The first espresso machine built for space will keep Cristoforetti, the first Italian female astronaut, and her crew mates well caffeinated. The ISSpresso machine was developed by Lavazza and Argotec: It can also make tea and broths.
— Terry W. Virts (@AstroTerry) November 14, 2014
Shkaplerov’s daughter chose an Olaf the snowman doll, from the film “Frozen,” to serve as the zero-G talisman, Space.com reported. Traditionally, Soyuz commanders choose a doll or toy that will be used to determine when the astronauts are in space. When the astronauts reach orbit, Olaf will begin to float. “My youngest daughter is eight years old, and she selected that as a talisman,” Shkaplerov said during a press conference.
The astronauts will orbit Earth four times before docking with the space station at 9:53 p.m. EST, with NASA’s coverage beginning at 9:15 p.m. The hatch between the Soyuz spacecraft and the ISS will open at 11:30 p.m.
Beginning at 3 p.m. EST, NASA’s International Space Station live-stream coverage can be viewed below.