Expedition 13 have blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at dawn on Thursday (9:30pm Eastern, Wednesday) – on course to the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA’s Jeffrey Williams, Russian commander Pavel Vinogradov and Brazilian Marcos Pontes are en-route for a one and a half day pursuit of the ISS, where they will dock their Soyuz TMA-8 spacecraft before boarding on Friday. (Read on for links – plus full launch video replay of the launch).
Soyuz TMA-8 : LIVE
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The Expedition 13 crew of Williams and commander Vinogradov are rotating residency on the ISS with Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev and NASA astronaut William McArthur.
This will be the first mission that NASA has paid for a seat on the Soyuz for one of their astronauts. Reports vary on the amount of cash that has changed hands, although it is understood to be at least $20m.
‘Pending the final State Commission decision at about 3.5h before undocking, 11S return is scheduled for 4/8 (Saturday), with undocking command at 4:28pm EDT and landing in the vicinity of Arkhalyk/Kazakhstan at 7:46pm EDT.
A full technical run down of preparations is available on L2
Pontes ready for his World Cup
Pontes will become Brazil’s first astronaut – and he’ll be taking the most iconic symbol of his nation with him into space.
In modern history, Brazil has the best national team in the world’s most popular sport, football (soccer). They go into World Cup Finals in Germany this year as favourites again, ahead of England.
Not that the World Champions will likely need it, Pontes will be taking a Brazil shirt with him to the ISS ‘to bring them luck’. Media reports claim that upon its arrival back on Earth it will be presented to Real Madrid’s $100m star striker Ronaldo.
‘To commemorate the six times champions of the world that the Brazilian football team will become this year, I’m taking the Brazilian soccer team shirt,’ he said. ‘About being the first Brazilian: it’s a very good feeling but a great responsibility also.’
Pontes’ chance to travel into space has been a long road, having seen his initial shot of riding on the Space Shuttle in 2001 scuppered, before being cancelled due to the loss of Columbia in 2003.
‘I want to thank the Brazilian Air Force, who taught me how to pursue an objective. If someone gives you a mission, you go until the end, independently of problems that you have.
‘Persistence is the word I’d like people to remember.’
Related story: Williams notes Soyuz’s importance
**FULL SOYUZ TMA-8 MISSION COVERAGE**