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Astronauts bond with each other, their spacesuits; launch Tuesday

October 22, 2012|By Amy Hubbard
  • The multinational threesome getting ready to set off for the International Space Station on Tuesday fit some fun into a "fit check." From left, Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy, Flight Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin and NASA Flight Engineer Kevin Ford.
The multinational threesome getting ready to set off for the International… (Victor Zelentsov / NASA )

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.

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"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. 

Ford, Novitskiy and Tarelkin are set to dock with the orbiting space lab Thursday morning. They will stay on board the ISS for five months, returning to Earth in March 2013. Williams, Malenchenko and Hoshide have been on the station since July and are set to return to Earth on Nov. 19.

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