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Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft set for ISS voyage

Launch pad engineers watch as the Soyuz-FG rocket is rolled onto the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Image credit: NASA

BAIKONUR (BNS): Russia’s Soyuz-FG carrier rocket with the Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft is all set to blast off from here on Wednesday, taking crew members of Expedition 21 to the International Space Station.

On Monday, the spaceship was transported from its assembly building to the launch pad and rotated from its horizontal position on its railcar to its vertical position, NASA said.

The launch is scheduled at 11:14 am Moscow time (07:14 GMT) from the space centre here in Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, US astronaut Jeffrey Williams, Russian cosmonaut Maxim Surayev, and a space tourist, Canadian billionaire Guy Laliberte, got the final go-ahead on Tuesday to blast off to the ISS, RIA Novosti reported.

Williams and Surayev will replace Russia’s Gennady Padalka and US’ Michael Barratt who have been in the space station since March and would return to Earth next month along with space tourist Laliberte.

The docking station at the Zvezda module on the ISS, which has been vacated by the Progress space freighter, is being prepared to receive the new members of Expedition 21 on October 2.

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