Expedition 12 have launched on an early morning (UK Time) trip to the International Space Station (ISS) on a Soyuz TMA-7, whilst carrying a very special cargo – a US tourist.
52-year old Soyuz commander Valery Tokarev is joined by 54-year old NASA veteran of three Shuttle launches, Bill McArthur, alongside American businessman Greg Olsen – paying millions of dollars to the Russian Federal Space Agency for the flight and an 8 day stay onboard the outpost.
Launching on time at 4:55am (UK time, Saturday – 11:55pm EDT on Friday) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 12 will be spending around six months on the ISS, preparing the initial stages of the expected arrival of Shuttle Discovery next year.
American McArthur will take over command of the ISS when Expedition 11 commander Sergei Krikalev and flight engineer John Phillips leave with Olsen after a short transition period.
One of the main elements of the transition will be the training on the Canadarm2 robotic arm – which will play a role in the assembly flights involving the Shuttle flights next year.
It’s expected that Atlantis will re-start the continuation of the construction stages of the ISS, on STS-115, set to launch in July of 2006.
To follow the processing stages of the Soyuz for this launch – and for updates on the mission, click here: