Soyuz crew gets comfortable aboard its capsule

The crew to fly aboard the next Russian Soyuz manned spacecraft got to climb inside their capsule Friday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome for inspections.

NASA's Don Pettit, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers then donned their Sokol spacesuits and entered the capsule a second time to strap themselves into the seats for fit checks ahead of the planned Dec. 21 blastoff to the International Space Station.

Soyuz capsules provide the only means for transporting crews to and from and orbiting space station these days. The three men are headed for a half-year mission aboard the outpost as members of Expeditions 30 and 31.

The Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft will be encapsulated in the aerodynamic shroud and then mated to its rocket booster next week in preparation for rollout to the launch pad on Dec. 19.

Following launch on Dec. 21 at 8:16 a.m. EST (1316 GMT), the Soyuz will fly a two-day trek to rendezvous with the station for a planned automated docking Dec. 23 at 10:20 a.m. EST (1520 GMT).

Photo credit: RSC Energia


Expedition 29 Patch
Space models