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18 Jun, 2010 02:28

100th spaceship arrives at ISS

Soyuz TMA-19 has successfully docked at the ISS, delivering 3 new members to the orbiting lab.

A Soyuz rocket was launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, marking the 100th flight of a spacecraft to the ISS.

Spectators at the launch reported seeing a bright light resembling the tail of a peacock. According to a representative of the space-rocket corporation “Energia”, such atmospheric phenomenon was last seen more than 10 years ago. The luminescence can be explained by the light from the engine of the rocket reflected off the fuel vapors.

The Soyuz module TMA-19 is carrying a team of 3: the captain, Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, and two US astronauts, Douglas Wheelock and Shannon Walker.

The state of no gravity onboard was signaled by the captain’s good luck charm: a small toy puppet hanging above the control panel. This is the third time Yurchikhin has taken the puppet into space.

This space mission is to last 164 days, during which the cosmonauts will perform four space walks. Apart from the work on the ISS, the crew will also take part in 24 scientific experiments.

“We are planning to conduct experiments on crystal growth in zero gravity conditions. But most important is the health research. A major breakthrough in the fight against AIDS or cancer will amply justify the cost of the station,” said Fyodor Yurchikhin.