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New Soyuz spacecraft ready to get off the pad

A revamped version of the tried-and-tested Soyuz spacecraft has been towed into position, ready to blast off in a few days.

­The spacecraft will carry three crewmembers to the International Space Station for a six-month mission on board mankind's most-remote outpost. It is the 28th expedition to the International Space Station.

The three people who are heading up into space from Baikonur are Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and American astronaut Mike Fossum. 

The three crew members, all in quarantine, met with friends, family and press through the glass.

The crew will be accompanied by Kedr (Cedar) the teddy bear, said Sergey Volkov at the last pre-flight press-conference with the cosmonauts. The toy, named in honor of the call sign of Yuri Gagarin during his historic space flight in 1961, will be delivered to the ISS by cargo spaceship Progress.

This was a request from Russian students who are taking part in a life-saving program for bears in Russia’s zoos and taking care of a real bear named Kedr. According to Volkov, the teddy bear will stay at the ISS for some time and then will return to Earth with the cosmonauts.

Kedr is not the only toy to be delivered to space. Toy piglet Nyusha is going to the ISS to take part in the experiment. It will work as an indicator of weightlessness – will be tied up and then set out on a “voyage” though the spaceship as soon as it reaches orbit.

Among other questions they were asked what would they miss most about their comforts of home.

“The thing that I will miss most is fresh fruits and fresh vegetables,” answered Michael Fossum. Russian cosmonaut Volkov said he would miss fried potatoes. “As Japanese I am to add fresh fish like sashimi or sushi,” said Satoshi Furukawa.

RT’s Lindsay France has spoken to Fossum’s son, who lightheartedly speculated about his father’s physical condition after such a long “trip”.

“He likes to think that he will be ok. Well, we’ll see. Because he will be really weak when he comes back after six months, his muscles will be weak, his bones will be weak. So we’ll see if he takes that wheelchair that other astronauts do or not,” he joked.

­Over 40 scientific experiments are to be conducted by the crew at the ISS.

Cancer research will be also undertaken by Satoshi Furukawa.

“When cancer cells grow there is called antiogenesis that we have, the vessels cells grow around the cancer cells. So if you block the antiogenesis it will become a remedy for cancer,” Furukawa explained.

The rocket has been put into position and will be held upright  till the launch on June 8. It will two days after lift-off before the crew docks at the ISS.