A Russian Soyuz spacecraft launching from the very same launch pad used by Yuri Gagarin when he became the first human in space 50 years ago blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, just a week shy of the April 12th anniversary. The launch took place on time on April 5, 2011 4:18:20 a.m local time (6:18:20 p.m. EDT on April 4), sending two cosmonauts and one astronaut to the International Space Station: Soyuz commander Alexander Samokutyaev, flight engineer Andrey Borisenko and NASA astronaut Ron Garan. The rocket bore the image (see below) and name of Gagarin to celebrate his historic flight.
The crew should reach the ISS on Wednesday.
Expedition 27 crew members from top, Russian Flight Engineer Andrey Borisenko, NASA Flight Engineer Ron Garan, and Soyuz Commander Alexander Samokutyaev wave farewell from the bottom of the Soyuz rocket prior to their launch to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on Tuesday, April 5, 2011. Photo Credit (NASA/Carla Cioffi)