ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli is on his way to the International Space Station with crewmates Dmitri Kondratyev and Catherine Coleman aboard their Soyuz spacecraft following liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, on December 15th at 20:09:25 CET.
Twenty main rocket nozzles beneath the venerable Soyuz launcher came to life at 01:09:25 local time at the cosmodrome and Soyuz TMA-20 rose into sky. About nine minutes later, the spacecraft and its three passengers were in space, antennas and solar panels deployed, circling Earth every 90 minutes. So began MagISStra, Europe’s third long-duration mission to the International Space Station (ISS). During his six-month mission, Paolo will serve as a flight engineer with Kondratyev and Coleman as members of Expeditions 26 and 27. Their return to Earth is planned for next May.