Space Station Astronauts Tested Ahead of Mission

Obama's budget would cancel NASA's Constellation Program, which had sought to send astronauts back to the moon by 2020. NASA released its 2011 budget on Monday, February 1, 2010, saying the International Space Station will be extended likely to 2020 or beyond enabling this vital orbiting laboratory to reach its full potential.
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The next team of astronauts travelling to the International Space Station (ISS) and their backup crew were tested on Tuesday (November 27) ahead of their flight next month.

The ISS Expedition 34/35 crew, comprised of Russian cosmonaut Commander Roman Romanenko, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn signed off on training and exam documents and worked on a Soyuz rocket simulator at the Star City cosmonaut training centre outside of Moscow.

The three have been training for more than four years for this mission which is scheduled for December 19. The crew will try to gauge the effects of long stays in space on the human body as well as other experiments.

"In my case, it will be taking samples of experiments that have stayed for a long time on the surface (of the space station) and also the installation, a new experimental environment," Romanenko told reporters who were allowed to view training and testing at the centre.

Marshburn said he hoped the experiments would have applications for future space travelers, not just astronauts.

"One of the most important things about us doing this long-duration flight now is how can we and the ground team get better at long-duration flight, because that's key to exploration, and I'm looking forward to being a part of that," Marshburn said.

Hadfield said the crew was comfortable in their training and was prepared for emergencies.

"There are three major problems that could happen on a space station that are the most dangerous: one is a leak, where the air is coming out of the station; two is being poisoned by the atmosphere with ammonia or some other chemical; and the third is fire.

And there's no such thing as a small fire in a spaceship, and so if there's a fire the smoke is what will kill us first, and so we have to be very ready to respond.

There are sensors throughout the space station that warn us if there is a fire, and we have protective equipment with masks and fire extinguishers. And if all else fails, we can always get into our Soyuz and close the hatch and breathe in our pressure suits and be O.K.," Hadfield said.

The ISS backup crew of Russian cosmonaut Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, also were examined on the space station simulator.

The ISS Expedition 34/35 crew will join NASA astronaut Kevin Ford, and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin at the space station. They are expected to return to Earth in May 2013.

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