Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and the two other crew members who will be travelling with him to the International Space Station (ISS) in December briefed journalists and the public on their upcoming mission Thursday.
'I'm really lucky to be flying with these gentlemen," Hadfield said of Russian space agency commander Roman Romanenko and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn.
The three astronauts answered journalists' questions about how they trained for the mission and what kind of experiments they will be doing at the station when they get there at a press conference at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The astronauts will blast off into space aboard a Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft on Dec. 5 from Kazakhstan.
They will join NASA astronaut Kevin Ford and Russian cosmonauts Evgeny Tarelkin and Oleg Novitskiy at the station. Together, the six crew members make up NASA's Expeditions 34 and 35.
"I've flown in space for 20 days, and I've been an astronaut for 20 years, so I'm really looking forward to this space flight," Hadfield said.
In March 2013, Ford, Novitskiy and Tarelkin will depart the ISS, and Hadfield will take command, becoming its first Canadian commander.
Astronauts to test medical device
During his stay at ISS, Hadfield will take at least one spacewalk and will also help operate the Canadarm 2 in capturing one of the U.S. commercial cargo capsules that is expected to supply the station.
Hadfield and crew will also conduct an experiment to test how microgravity affects surface acting agents such as soap, which reduce the surface tension of water.
They will also be testing a device provided by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) called Microflow. The portable device is a miniature version of a flow cytometer, which enables doctors and scientists to analyse the physical and chemical properties of molecules or cells in blood and other bodily fluids.
According to the CSA, the device, which relies on laser and fibre-optic technology, could eventually be used as a medical tool at the station to provide real-time analysis of everything from infections, stress, blood cells, cancer markers and could even be used to test food-quality levels on Earth.