Moscow: The main and reserve crews for a new space expedition to the ISS have headed to the Baikonur launch site for final training before lift off later this month.
The main crew now includes Roman Romanenko, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, and US astronaut Thomas Marshburn. Their backups are Fyodor Yurchikhin, European astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg.
The two crews took separate flights for security reasons, a Cosmonaut Training Center spokesman said.
Romanenko, Hadfield and Marshburn are slated to lift off in Russia’s Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft Dec 19. They are to join Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin, as well as NASA astronaut Kevin Ford.
International Space Station Expedition 34 will perform two spacewalks under Russian and US space programmes.
During their 147-day mission, the new ISS crew members will also take part in docking and unloading six spacecraft — four Russian Progress cargo spacecraft, Europe’s ATV-4 space freighter and US SpX-2 spacecraft.