Russia's Soyuz TMA-12M Lifts Off for the International Space Station With U.S., Russian Crew

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Russia's Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft, commanded by Alexander Skvortsov and carrying NASA astronaut Steve Swanson and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, reached orbit late Tuesday to start a four orbit, six hour trek to the International Space Station.

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Steve Swanson, left, Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev, not pictured, await lift off in their Soyuz TMA-12M capsule. Photo Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz carrier rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmdrome on time at 5:17 p.m., EDT, and placed the capsule in a preliminary 143 by 118 statute mile orbit nearly 1900 miles behind the 260 mile high space station within 10 minutes. Solar array and communications antenna deployments followed quickly.

"Everything is going well on board," reported Skvortsov.

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Soyoz TMA-12M begins four orbit, six hour transit to the International Space Station. Photo Credit: NASA TV.

The mission profile permits Moscow, Skvortsov and his crewmates to change the rendezvous to early Thursday evening if some sort of problem were to develop within the first four hours of their flight.

If not, they will be welcomed aboard the ISS just after 11 p.m., EDT, by Expedition 39 commander Koichi Wakata, NASA's Rick Mastracchio and cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin as the TMA-12M capsule docks to the station's Russian segment Poisk module.

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