I just came across this news story on cnet.com, of how a Russian Soyuz rocket departed Earth to deposit a team of two rookies and one veteran cosmonaut on the International Space Station. Hmm, a three man crew is heading for the ISS aboard a Russian-built Soyuz rocket? That sound familiar to you? Provided you’re a fan of Big Bang Theory, it damn well ought to seeing as how this is exactly how the last season ended.
In any case, this mission has a somewhat unusual profile: to test the effect of zero-g on aquariums and aquatic life forms contained therein. I kind you not. The Soyuz craft, which lifted off at 4:51 p.m. (local time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, was carrying with it a tank with 32 medaka fish that were bound for a zero-gravity research aquarium aboard the ISS’s lab complex.
At the same time, the crew will be shuttling supplies to the station and conducting routine maintenance on the station’s spacewalk while they are aboard. This will consist of fixing a leak in the coolant system of the station’s far left-side solar array, which is responsible for dissipating heat within the station. The mission is expected to last a total of 143 days, with the three man crew returning to Earth in March 2013. Personally, I can’t imagine being in space, or anywhere, for that long! I hope they packed plenty of digital devices, and at least have an internet hookup up there 😉