Space station crew works on AIDS vaccine, prepares missions to Moon and Mars

The new crew to the international space station will conduct experiments to research new AIDS vaccines and plant growth, and work on new space vehicles that will help future missions to the moon and Mars, crew members said Thursday.

With nearly three weeks remaining before the launch of the Soyuz space craft, Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov and U.S. astronaut Leroy Chiao held their last news conference before their mission, informs ABC News.

According to Reuters, Russia will launch a three-man crew to the International Space Station on Oct. 11, two days later than initially scheduled due to problems with the docking system. Russia's space agency announced the delay last week, but did not fix a new launch date at the time.

The blast-off in a Soyuz spacecraft from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan will send up a replacement crew for Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and NASA astronaut Michael Fincke, who have manned the orbital platform since April.

Russian Salizhan Sharipov and NASA's Leroy Chiao will live on the station for the next six months. They will be joined in the launch craft by Yuri Shargin, a lieutenant-colonel from Russia's space forces, who will spend 10 days in orbit before returning to Earth with the outgoing crew.

Russian cosmonaut Salijan Sharipovthe said: "As part of the 'vaccine' experiment that we will carry out, we will study proteins that may be used in a vaccine against Aids," Sharipov told reporters at the Star City training centre near Moscow.

Capsules containing the proteins in question will be installed on board the space station, he said, adding that results would be analysed back on Earth, informs the Independent Online.

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