The launch of the International Space Station Expedition 39 crew members will take place on March 25 at 5:17 p.m. EDT. The NASA ISS live stream will begin at 4:15 p.m. and the flight to the space station will take six hours and the space agency will cover the docking to the ISS at 10:30 p.m. EDT.
NASA astronaut Steve Swanson and cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, located in Kazakhstan, aboard a Soyuz TMA-12M. For the last few weeks, there have been just three astronauts aboard the ISS.
On March 10, Expedition 38 commander Oleg Kotov, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins and cosmonaut Sergei Ryazanskiy departed from the ISS, completing their 166 day mission. The trio left Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata, NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio and cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin to take care of the space station until the remaining Expedition 39 crew arrived on March 25. Wakata took over command of ISS from Kotov and will serve as the Expedition 39 commander, the first Japanese astronaut to ever do so.
The new ISS crew members will get their first face-to-face meeting with the current ISS members at around 12:45 a.m. EDT when the hatch opens. Speaking about the duties aboard the ISS, Skvortsov said in an interview with the International Business Times, “We have a list of jobs to be done and I hope that all of them will be completed and that we'll be able to fulfill this mission without any extraordinary events or situations, especially given the circumstances of the previous mission when we had a problem, with the pump failure, that led to three spacewalks.”
Ahead of the launch, Wakata, Mastracchio and Tyurin were busy performing experiments, exercising and completing routing maintenance aboard the ISS, reports NASA. Following the arrival of the remaining ISS crew members, the new crew’s first mission together will take place on April 2 when SpaceX’s Dragon capsule will arrive at the ISS as part of the commercial resupply mission.
Of course, the first ISS launch has received more attention as the United States relies on Russia for manned launches. Many were concerned that the tension between the United States and Russia over Crimea would lead to a disruption in space flight cooperation as the U.S. also pays for the majority of the costs for the yearly maintenance of the ISS. Tuesday’s launch will not be affected and the U.S. will pay Russia $71 million for the ISS launch, reports FoxNews.com. NASA hopes that commercial partnerships can bring manned launches back to the United States by 2017.
The NASA live stream of the ISS Expedition 39 crew launch will begin at 4:15 p.m., with the launch scheduled for 5:17 p.m. EDT, and can be viewed below.