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Sunday, March 24, 2013

This Week: Dragon Down; Soyuz Up to ISS

Three new crew members are set to launch to the International Space Station on a six-hour flight to travel from the launch pad to their destination. Chris Cassidy of NASA, along with Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), are scheduled to launch in their Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:43 p.m. EDT, Thursday, March 28, 2013. Live coverage on NASA Television begins at 2:30 p.m. (launch preperations video).
 
The Soyuz TMA-08M will become the first station crew members to make an expedited trip to the orbiting laboratory. Instead of taking the standard two days to rendezvous and dock with the station, they will need only four orbits of Earth to reach the station. This flight will employ rendezvous techniques used recently with three unpiloted Russian Progress cargo spacecraft.
 
Cassidy, Vinogradov and Misurkin will join Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency, Tom Marshburn of NASA and Roman Romanenko of Roscosmos, who have been aboard the outpost since December 2012.
SpaceX Dragon CRS missions

Meanwhile, the commercial SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is now scheduled to depart the International Space Station Tuesday, March 26, 2013 on a return flight to Earth. Dragon is the only space station resupply spacecraft able to return to Earth intact. It will return about 2,668 pounds (1,210 kilograms) of science samples from human research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities.  
 
The mission is the second of 12 SpaceX flights contracted by NASA to resupply the International Space Station. It is the third trip by a Dragon capsule to the orbiting laboratory, following a demonstration flight in May 2012 and the first resupply mission in October 2012.
 
SpaceX-3 Commercial Resupply Services flight is now set for September 30, 2013, following resupply missions by the European Space Agency’s ATV-4, also known as the “Albert Einstein;” two Russian Progress 51P and 52P vehicles in April and July; and, perhaps the commercial Cygnus spacecraft operated by Orbital Sciences Corporation in July 2013. 

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