WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli launched to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:09 p.m. EST Wednesday (1:09 a.m. local time, Dec. 16).
Coleman, Kondratyev and Nespoli are scheduled to dock their Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft to the station's Rassvet docking port at 3:12 p.m., Friday, Dec. 17. They will join Expedition 26 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka aboard the orbiting laboratory.
On Friday, NASA Television will air docking coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. Coverage of the hatches opening and a welcoming ceremony aboard the station will begin at 5:30 p.m. For NASA TV streaming video, schedule and downlink information, visit:
During Expedition 26, the six-person crew will continue scientific research, perform station maintenance and welcome several visiting vehicles.
Kondratyev and Skripochka will conduct two spacewalks, which are scheduled for Jan. 21 and late February. They will install an antenna to complete an information transfer system that sends large computer files to and from the station. The spacewalkers also will perform work on the outside of the Russian station modules.
In addition to space shuttle Discovery's planned STS-133 visit in February, the Expedition 26 crew is expecting the arrival of three resupply vehicles in January and February.
The second Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency H-II Transfer Vehicle, called Kounotori, or white stork, is scheduled to launch Jan. 20 from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. It will be attached robotically to the Earth-facing docking port on the station's Harmony module on Jan. 27.
The second European Space Agency Automated Transfer Vehicle, named for famed mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, is scheduled to launch from Kourou, French Guiana, on Feb. 15. It will dock to the aft port of the Zvezda service module on Feb. 26.
The Russian Progress 41 resupply craft is scheduled to launch from Baikonur on Jan. 28 and dock to the Pirs docking compartment on Jan. 31.
Kelly, Kaleri and Skripochka, who launched to the station on Oct. 7, are scheduled to return to Earth in March. Before departing, Kelly will hand over command of the station to Kondratyev for Expedition 27.
NASA astronaut Ron Garan and Russian cosmonauts Andrei Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev will join Coleman, Kondratyev and Nespoli aboard the station on April 1 to complete the Expedition 27 crew. Their launch is set for March 30.
For updates about the space station and Expedition 26/27 crew members, visit:
To view the new official International Space Station page on Facebook and follow crew member posts from space, visit:
To follow Twitter updates from Expedition 26/27 crew member Coleman, visit: