The seventh ISS (International Space Station) long-duration expedition is to lift off at 7.35 a.m. April 26 from the Baikonur space center. The relevant order was signed by Yury Koptev in charge of the Russian Aerospace Agency. Should any unforeseen problems arise, the launch can be postponed until April 29, 2003, the Russian Aerospace Agency's officials say.
The seventh ISS expedition comprises mission commander Yury Malenchenko of Russia and flight engineer US astronaut Edward Lu. Both men have already arrived in Baikonur. The stand-by crew, i.e. mission commander US astronaut Michael Foale and flight engineer Russian cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri, also flew there aboard another plane.
According to the Russian Aerospace Agency, the Soyuz launch vehicle and the Soyuz-TMA-2 space ferry are currently being readied for launch inside the Baikonur center's vehicle assembly building (VAB). The spacecraft has already been connected with the docking adapter and refuelled, as well; the Soyuz-TMA-2's nose shroud has also been installed, officials at the Russian Aerospace Agency noted.
The seventh ISS expedition is to replace the sixth expedition, spending 185 days aboard the orbital station, the Russian Aerospace Agency's people said in conclusion.
Following the summit in Riga on November 30, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained how the alliance could respond to Russia's 'new aggression against Ukraine.'