New Space Station Crew Begins Journey Into Space

Posted November 14th, 2011 at 1:55 am (UTC-5)
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The new International Space Station crew launched early Monday from a snowy Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Despite more than 15 centimeters of snow on the ground at the launch facility, the Soyuz spacecraft was free of the technical problems that have plagued the Russian space program in recent months.

The new three-man crew, including an American and two Russians , will be the first group to join the ISS since the U.S. space shuttle program ended in July after 30 years of service. NASA said the rendezvous with the ISS is planned for Tuesday . The new crew is scheduled for a March 2012 return to Earth.

The current ISS crew is scheduled to return to Kazakhstan before the end of November.

The Russian space program has experienced several mishaps in recent months. An August 24 unmanned launch attempt experienced a catastrophic failure.

Russia has likely lost the Phobus-Grunt Mars probe, which failed to leave Earth's orbit after Wednesday's launch. Experts continue efforts to re-establish a proper trajectory and send the wayward spacecraft onward to Mars.

The next scheduled launch bound for the ISS is December 21.