New Soyuz crew enjoy old Soviet movie before take-off April 8

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Moscow, Apr 7 (UNI) The crew of the Sojuz spaceship, which leaves for the International Space Station (ISS) on April 8, will be made up of Flight Commander Sergei Volkov and Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko from Russia, as well as Yi Soo-yeon, the first lady cosmonaut from South Korea.

The State Commission adopted at the Baikonur cosmodrome today a final resolution on the make-up of the crew of the 17th ISS mission and of the visiting mission, a representative of the Federal Space Agency (RosKosmos) in Baikonur told Itar-Tass news agency.

While final test were underway the crew held a news conference where the cosmonauts shared some of their hopes and fears.

Each of them have had letters of support from relatives and friends. But they said they won't open them before reaching the ISS.

As always with Russian space missions, the crew will sit down together before blast off to watch the old Soviet comedy film ''The White Sun of the Desert.'' The comedy classic boosts morale and is thought to bring the mission good luck.

The space mission of Volkov and Kononenko will last for about six months. Yi-Soo-yeon will spend 11 days at ISS and will return to the Earth on April 19 together with the crew of the 16th expedition Yuri Malenchenko and Peggy Whitson, who have been working at ISS since last October.

The stand-by crew, made up of Maxim Surayev and Oleg Skripochka, will remain on the Earth for the time being.

The 17th space mission, which will last for six months, is not going to be easy. A working programme of the cosmonauts includes two space walkouts.

Besides, they will receive and unload three Progress spaceships and will welcome the crews of three ''shuttle'' spaceships, the first of which, the Discovery, is to come to ISS early in June.

Volkov and Kononenko will do a major part of the work for the unloading of the first European cargo spaceship of the ATV series, which docked to ISS on April 3.

The crew will conduct 47 scientific experiments in orbit. Several directions of scientific research will be entirely new. US astronauts first Garret Reysman, then Sandra Magnus who will come to ISS on board the Discovery, will help their Russian colleagues.


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