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article imageCanadian astronaut lifts off

By Moushumi Chakrabarty     May 27, 2009 in Science
Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk is on his way into space aboard the International Space Station in a Soyuz rocket today. Also traveling with Thirsk are Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne.
The mission is on a six month stay and the longest for Canada’s Human Space Program (see earlier story here). Dr Thirsk will serve as the team’s medical officer as well as perform other duties.
The rocket took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the steppes of Kazakhastan with three members which will bring up the total to six crew at the International Space Station (ISS). The other two traveling with Thirsk are Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne.
According to NASA, the Soyuz TMA-15 capsule is expected to dock at the ISS on on Friday 29th May. In an interview with NASA, Thirsk outlined his duties during the mission: “There’s several goals but I guess maybe the two most important ones are, first of all, to establish the ISS as a station that’s capable of supporting six crew members, and then also to help transition the space station program from a phase where, that has been dominated by assembly, to one of utilization to help the station fulfill its new responsibility as a world-class facility for doing research and development.
With few exceptions, my responsibilities will be similar to that of the other five crewmates and that will include, of course, housekeeping and maintenance, operation and troubleshooting of the station systems and payloads. But in particular, I’ll be a robotic specialist on board Expedition 20 and 21, and I’ll also be the caretaker for the Japanese element, the Japanese laboratory.”
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