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13 Jun, 2010 16:10

Countdown to Soyuz blast-off to ISS

Final preparations for the next crew to blast off to the International Space Station are underway. On Sunday morning a Soyuz carrier rocket was moved to the launch pad at the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

A Russian cosmonaut and two US astronauts will start their mission on Wednesday.

The launches of the Soyuz modules are so tightly managed at Baikonur that they became almost a ritual.

Two days before blast-off, at exactly 07:00 local time, the rocket is wheeled out. Then it is taken to the launch pad where it is erected.

The Soyuz module TMA-19 will take a team of three to the ISS in the early hours of Wednesday, June 16. There they will join another three members of the mission who have already been there for several months.

This time the crew will be carrying out several important experiments; among them – growing crystals in the weightlessness.