Topic: International Space Station
- Russia approves new ISS crew
- Soyuz TMA-16 crews take final tests before flight to ISS
- Astronauts secure new coolant tank to ISS - NASA
BAIKONUR, September 29 (RIA Novosti) - U.S. 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 International Space Station.
Russia's Soyuz-FG carrier rocket bearing the Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft is due for liftoff from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan at 11:14 a.m. Moscow time (07:14 GMT) on Wednesday.
The rocket was transported to the launch pad on Monday.
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. Williams and Surayev will replace Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and U.S. astronaut Michael Barratt, who will return to Earth with Laliberte next month having been on the space station since March.
Laliberte, the founder of the internationally renowned Cirque du Soleil, paid about $35 million for his 12-day stay on the station. U.S. plans to scrap its space shuttle and the expansion of the ISS crew to six personnel mean he will be the last space tourist for the next few years, as the Russian Soyuz spacecraft will be the only vehicle for human flights to and from the international orbiter.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.