On the heels of the International Space Station mission that touched Canadians through the words and pictures of Commander Chris Hadfield, a new trio of astronauts is preparing to launch for the orbiting laboratory on Wednesday.
Flight engineers Karen Nyberg, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Luca Parmitano are set to blast off from Kazakhstan on May 28 aboard a Soyuz TMA-09M to round out the station's six-person Expedition 36 crew.
Russian cosmonaut Yurchikhin will be commander of Expedition 37 after current commander Pavel Vinogradov and flight engineers Chris Cassidy and Alexander Misurkin depart in September.
Yurchikhin said he hopes he will be a "very great friend" for each crew member.
Crew awaits launch in Kazakhstan
The new crew, currently waiting for their departure in the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, will launch and dock with the ISS's Rassvet module.
The spacecraft that will transport the crew is expected to launch at 4:31 p.m. ET on Wednesday and dock approximately six hours later.
While Parmitano, a European Space Agency astronaut from Italy, is taking part in his first space mission, this will be Yurchikhin's third time on the ISS and the second stay for American astronaut Nyberg.
"The main goal for all of the [missions] now is to use the station as the science laboratory that it is," said NASA's Nyberg.
"That's mainly what we'll be doing, along with upkeeping, like you would in your house, keeping it up and running. We are trained on the same tasks these days and we are prepared to do anything."
Hadfield, along with NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romenko, returned from the ISS on May 13. Hadfield and Marshburn are in Houston undergoing rehabilitation after living and working aboard the orbiting laboratory.
According to NASA, the ISS was visible over North America early Monday morning. The space station, which looks like a fast-moving plane in the sky, is visible several times per week.