The next three crew members bound for the International Space Station are set to launch on Tuesday, Dec. 15., and NASA Television will provide full coverage of the launch beginning at 5 a.m. EST.
Astronauts Tim Kopra of NASA and Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency), and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 6:03 a.m. (5:03 p.m. Baikonur time) for a six-month stay on the orbital complex.
The three will travel in a Soyuz spacecraft, rendezvous with the space station and dock to the Rassvet module at 12:24 p.m. NASA TV coverage of docking will begin at 11:45 a.m.
The hatches between the Soyuz and space station will be opened at about 2:25 p.m., and the newly arrived crew members will be greeted by Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA and Flight Engineers Sergey Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos. NASA TV coverage of the hatch opening will begin at 2 p.m.
Kelly and Kornienko will return in March 2016 with Volkov after spending a year on the station collecting valuable biomedical data that will improve our understanding of the effects of long duration space travel and aid in NASA´s journey to Mars.
Together, the Expedition 46 crew members will continue the several hundred experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science currently underway and scheduled to take place aboard humanity´s only orbiting laboratory.