BAIKONUR, May 29 (RIA Novosti) – A Soyuz-FG carrier rocket blasted off from the Baikonur space center early on Wednesday to take the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft with new crew members to the International Space Station (ISS).
The spacecraft, carrying Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, and astronauts Karen Nyberg of NASA and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency, was launched at 00:31 Wednesday Moscow time (8:31 p.m. Tuesday GMT) and was orbited at 00:40 Wednesday Moscow time (8:40 p.m. Tuesday GMT).
The spacecraft is expected to automatically dock with the ISS at 6:16 Moscow time (2:16 a.m. GMT), after about six hours in flight. Until March, it had taken two days for crews to go from Earth to the space station.
This is the fourth spaceflight for Yurchikhin, who will assume command of Expedition 37 once US astronaut Christopher Cassidy, and Russian cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin, undock in November. This is flight engineer Nyberg’s first flight aboard a Soyuz, though she flew to the ISS on the shuttle Discovery in 2008. Parmitano has no prior spaceflight experience.