Two NASA astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut will launch to the International Space Station later today, and astronauts Douglas Wheelock has been able to get up close and personal with the Soyuz rocket that will take them there. He’s taken a few pictures of his rocket from unusual vantage points and posted them on Twitter, and is sharing his prelaunch experiences, too (@Astro_Wheels). Wheelock has big shoes to fill in the Twitter and picture-taking department, as JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi set a new standard in making his time on board the ISS a shared experience through images and social media. More pics below, plus a newly released video by NASA of the landing of the Soyuz that brought the Noguchi, Soyuz Commander Oleg Kotov and TJ Creamer back home. It’s a view of the landing not normally seen.
For the next crew heading to the ISS, which will bring the crew size back to six at the space station, veteran cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, Wheelock and Shannon Walker are scheduled for liftoff aboard the Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:35:19 p.m. EDT (9:35 pm GMT) (3:35:19 a.m. June 16 local time Kazakhstan).
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Including manned and unmanned missions, this will be the 100th launch supporting space station operations since assembly began in 1998.