15 May 2012Three new crewmembers are heading to the International Space Station after blasting off from the Russian spaceport in Kazakhstan Tuesday.
Russian astronauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin, along with American Joseph Acaba were launched into orbit aboard a cramped Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonour Cosmodrome under clear skies. They are scheduled to join Russian Oleg Kononenko, American Don Petit and Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers as part of the ISS crew for the next several months.
The Soyuz is the only spacecraft capable of sending manned crews to the orbital outpost since the U.S. space shuttle program was retired last year. The U.S. space agency NASA is working with several private companies to transport cargo, and eventually manned crews, to the ISS.
U.S.-based Space Exploration Technologies, or Space X, will launch an unmanned cargo ship to the ISS on Saturday, the first private spacecraft ever to be launched to the station.