The Soyuz rocket is erected into position after being rolled out to the launch pad by train on Dec. 17, 2012, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Launch of the Soyuz rocket is scheduled for Dec. 19 and will send Expedition 34 Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA, Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko and Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency on a five-month mission aboard the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi
Final launch preparations are under way at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as three Expedition 34 flight engineers get ready for their launch to round out the standard six-person crew on the International Space Station.
The three Expedition 34 crew members currently living and working aboard the station were busy with a variety of maintenance duties and science experiments Monday as they wait for the launch and arrival of their crewmates.
Commander Kevin Ford unpacked medical kit supplies brought to the station aboard the ISS Progress 49 cargo craft and packed trash and other unneeded items aboard the ISS Progress 48 cargo craft for disposal. He also worked with the Fluid Physics Experiment Facility and spent the majority of his afternoon performing some routine cleaning and maintenance on the Crew Quarters.
Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy performed software updates on the Russian computers and completed some monthly maintenance on the treadmill in the Russian segment. He also worked on the Coulomb Crystal experiment, which studies the dynamics of solid dispersed environments in an inhomogeneous magnetic field in microgravity.
Flight Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin worked in the Russian segment of the station performing maintenance on the Elektron system, replacing dust filters and inspecting and photographing windows.
Meanwhile, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, and Russian Federal Space Agency cosmonaut Roman Romanenko made final preparations for their Wednesday launch, staying warm in record low winter temperatures in the area of the Kazakhstan launch site. The trio will to launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft at 7:12 a.m. EST (6:12 p.m. Baikonur time) Wednesday, beginning a two-day journey to the station. The Soyuz will dock to the station's Rassvet module at 9:12 a.m. Friday, when the crew will begin a five-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory.
Coverage of the launch will begin at 6 a.m. Wednesday on NASA TV.
› NASA TV schedule for Soyuz launch coverage
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The Soyuz spacecraft that will carry Marshburn, Hadfield and Romanenko to the station was transported by railcar to the launch pad Monday after its three stages were mated together Sunday.