50 years in space – crew on milestone expedition passes final tests

They may soon be going where few have gone before, but for now the only place they're going is back to school.

The next crew to journey to the International Space Station is sitting down today for exams to make sure they're fully prepared.

Today is the final exam of the next mission’s crew that is scheduled to go to the ISS. The examination lasts for two days.

Traditionally, there are two crews getting ready for any space flight, a main crew and a backup, both of them doing identical training and passing the same examinations. Each team consists of two Russian cosmonauts and one American astronaut. The teams have been training together for the last two years.

The exam has a five grade scale, with five being the highest grade. The testing is focused on performance situations they will have to deal with on their way to ISS, aboard the station, and while descending back on Earth.

In each task, the crew is presented with an emergency situation and must choose one out of three possible actions to take.

The crew must be prepared for anything that might go wrong, though at a press conference that preceded the examinations they assured reporters that they are absolutely sure everything will be perfect and they are fully prepared, both physically and mentally, to do their six month shift on ISS.

The next Soyuz launch is set for March 30, so if the crew passes the test with flying colors today at Star City near Moscow, they will take the next ride into orbit.

There are no ordinary space launches, but this one is going to be very special – it will happen close to the 50th anniversary of Yury Gagarin’s historic flight when he became the first man in space.

The module that will take the next expedition into orbit is named after Yury Gagarin and everything that will happen during this launch will be associated with the first cosmonaut.