Three new International Space Station crew members are set to launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Launch is scheduled for is 20:31 UTC (4:31 p.m. EDT) Tuesday (2:31 a.m. May 29, Baikonur time). The new Expedition 36 crew will take an accelerated four-orbit, 6-hour journey to Space Station. They will be docking at 02:17 UTC on May 29 (10:17 pm. EDT May 28). You can watch Live NASA TV coverage below, which begins an hour before launch (19:30 UTC, 3:30 p.m. EDT), and live coverage will return about 45 minutes before docking.
The new crew includes Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano.
UPDATE: If you missed the launch live, you can watch a replay, below.
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The crew will dock their Soyuz to the station’s Rassvet module. After the hatches open, the new trio will join Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy of NASA and Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos who docked with the orbital complex May 28. All six crew members will then participate in a welcome ceremony with family members and mission officials gathered at the Russian Mission Control Center in Korolev near Moscow.
In the past, Soyuz manned capsules and Progress supply ships were launched on trajectories that required about two days, or 34 orbits, to reach the ISS. The new fast-track trajectory has the rocket launching shortly after the ISS passes overhead. Then, additional firings of the vehicle’s thrusters early in its mission expedites the time required for a Russian vehicle to reach the Station.
This is the second Soyuz crew vehicle to make the accelerated trip, and three Progress resupply ships have also taken the fast track to the ISS.
You can see more images from the Expedition 36 launch and pre-launch activities at NASA HQ’s Flickr page.