The International Space station (ISS) will welcome its new crews on Dec. 15. Three astronauts are poised for launch early Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome to boost the lab's crew back to six.
Four days ago, a Soyuz ferry craft ferried three space station residents to a frigid landing in Kazakhstan.
The three fresh crews are flight commander Yuri Malenchenko, NASA engineer Timothy Kopra, European Space Agency astronaut Timothy Peake. They are slated to blast off from Baikonur, Russia at 6:03 a.m. on Dec. 15.
They will be welcomed by Expedition 46 commander Scott Kelly, Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov. Kelly and Kornienko are three months away from completing their one-year in space mission. They will return here on Earth on March 1 2016.
Four days ago, three astronauts from ISS returned here on Earth to conclude their 141-day mission in the station. The latest batch of astronauts will replace Oleg Kononenko, Kimiya Yui and Kjell Lindgren.
The new station crews Malenchenko, Kopra, and Peake are slated to stay on the station for up to six months. Estimates show the trip to the ISS should last for about six hours after liftoff.
For Malenchenko, it will be his sixth flight to the station. He is also one of Russia's most experienced cosmonauts, while Kopra will have his first visit on the station since 2009. Meanwhile, Peake will make history for this trip, as he is the first Briton to travel to the International Space Station.
Peake is a veteran military pilot. He is the first British astronaut to serve in a long-duration mission at the station. "For me, it's very important that we've taken this step," he said in an article from CBS News.
To cheer up the astronauts, UK Prime Minister David Cameron wished the crew good luck via Twitter.
--UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) December 15, 2015
For the other two experienced astronauts they expect their journey to ISS will yield great results for the science community. Malenchenko has logged 641 days in space across five flights, and Kopra was assigned in a February 2011 shuttle mission. Both of them will conduct space experiments on the International Space station.
"We get along famously with all the international partners, and I hope the next step in our exploration, be it the moon or Mars, involves international partners," Kopra said in a statement.
NASA also said the three astronauts will deal with up to five supply missions, at least one spacewalk and station repairs.
According Space.com, the International space station has a complete surface area the size of a US football field, which actually makes it almost as large as the Tantive IV, the Corellian Corvette that carried Princess Leia. Also, there are 52 computers that are controlling the station. The cost of building this massive structure stands at 150 billion USD.