ESA astronauts Luca and his crewmates, cosmonaut commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, spent the last few weeks before launch in Moscow, Russia passing their final exams for flying the Soyuz spacecraft that will fly them to the International Space Station. They received their official tickets to the orbital outpost on 10 May when the Soyuz examination board declared them qualified to fly.
The crew left for the Baikonur launch facility on 16 May. The crew stayed at the traditional Cosmonaut Hotel for the last days before launch. Luca, Fyodor and Karen are quarantined to make sure they do not take any unwanted bacteria or viruses to the Space Station. Family and support personnel such as flight surgeons are the only people allowed to stay with them.
Cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov, Alexander Misurkin and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy are already on the Station and will welcome the new Expedition when the Soyuz docks on 29 May.
Luca’s Volare mission is provided through an agreement with Italy’s ASI space
agency. His busy schedule of science and maintenance involves two spacewalks
to install new equipment and retrieve experiments.