As crew members, including NASA's Kevin Ford, prepared for the launch from Kazakstan on Tuesday that would take them to the International Space Station, the trio did some astronaut bonding, horsing around with their spacesuits.
Ford also sounded an optimistic note about the future of a space station whose cost of about $100 billion over the last dozen years has been criticized.
The NASA astronaut -- who will launch Tuesday about 4:51 a.m. Pacific time with Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy and Flight Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin -- said at a news conference Monday that the best was yet to come for the space station. The next 10 years are key, he said.
"We're going to learn the bulk of everything we know about the science that we're doing up there in the next decade," Ford said, according to the Associated Press.
The multinational Expedition 33 crew recently spent time in dress rehearsal for the scheduled launch.
At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, they conducted two "fit checks" of their Russian Sokol launch-and-entry suits, according to NASA, hoisting them over their heads for the camera. The crew will join Sunita Williams of NASA and Flight Engineers Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Russia's Yuri Malenchenko.