The first crew to reside aboard the International Space Station will be launched on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday 31 October at 08:53 Central European Time (CET). Their arrival on the Space Station two days later will mark the start of the human presence aboard the outpost.
The Expedition 1 crew will spend the next four months setting up and testing the new Space Station. The three crewmembers - Space Station commander Bill Shepherd (US), Soyuz commander Yuri Gidzenko (Russia) and flight engineer Sergei Krikalev (Russia) - have been training for the mission since late 1996, both in the US and in Russia.
When they arrive, the Space Station will consist of three modules: the service module Zvezda, which serves as living quarters and onboard control centre initially; the cargo block Zarya, which provides supplementary power and propulsion; and Node 1, a connecting module that provides the attachments points for future segments.
An ESA-developed, on-board central computing system called the Data Management System performs guidance, navigation and control for the Space Station complex. European scientific experiments are also already on the Space Station, waiting for research to begin.
The first European will visit the Space Station as of next year. ESA astronaut Umberto Guidoni (Italy) will be on board Space Shuttle mission STS-102 scheduled to carry the Italian-built Multi-Purpose Logistics Module and nine tonnes of fresh cargo to the Space Station in April 2001.
ESA, representing 10 European countries, is one of five partners in the International Space Station. The others are the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada.
For information on ESA and the International Space Station, please see: http://www.estec.esa.int/spaceflight
For information on the 1st expedition crew and their mission, please see : http://spaceflight.nasa.gov
Press events across Europe on 31 October
Media are invited to ESA sites events across Europe where the launch will be transmitted live and astronauts and programme officials will be on hand for interviews. If you wish to attend, please complete and return by fax the attached form.
Live coverage of the launch
ESA's TV service will produce a live transmission of the launch from Baikonur, with a feed from the mission control centre TsUP in Moscow, starting at 07:35 GMT. The launch is currently scheduled for Tuesday 31 October at 07.53 GMT. For up-to-date information, see http:/television.esa.int.
Live coverage of the docking
Soyuz's docking and the crew's entry into the Space Station two days after launch will also be covered on ESA's TV service. The docking is currently scheduled for 2 November at 09.19 GMT.
For further information, please contact :
ESA Media Relations Office