The next three residents of the International Space Station are due to blast off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 10:40 pm U.S. Eastern time on Saturday. Onboard the Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft will be NASA astronaut Sunita “Suni” Williams, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. In NASA’s complicated nomenclature, the arrival of the three newcomers will complete the six-person Expedition 32 crew.
Williams, who has already pulled one tour of duty on the station, will take over as commander in September. She and her devoted dog, Gorby, have been blogging their Kazakhstan adventure here.
In the video below, she talks (with crewmate Joe Acaba, who’s already up on the station) about riding the Soyuz to orbit and back.
Update: The Soyuz TMA-05M launched on time Saturday night, and is now headed for a rendezvous with the station. Docking is scheduled for early Tuesday morning (12:52 a.m. U.S. EDT).
Here’s a replay of the prelaunch preparatons and launch: