Space Station Crew Prepares for Launch in Soyuz

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 new space crew with astronauts from Russia, the U.S. and Canada on Tuesday (December 18) gave a news conference ahead of their flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

The crew will blast off from Kazakhstan's Baikonur on Wednesday (December 19) and are expected to arrive at the International Space Station on Friday (December 21).

The launch comes just a few days ahead of Western Christmas, which Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said he had celebrated early in Kazakhstan.

"It's once a year that we gather as a group and fortunately we've had a chance to gather here in Baikanour for Christmas together, but therefore, because of the traditions worldwide it does make all of us reflect - me specifically - on the wonderful things that happened, the friendship and love for friends and family," Hadfied said.

Hadfield is slated to take command of the ISS in March when current ISS commander, U.S. astronaut Kevin Ford is scheduled to return to earth with two of his Russian colleagues.

The new space crew, consisting of Hadfield, American astronaut Tom Marshburn, and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, experienced cold temperatures during their stay in Kazakhstan. On Tuesday temperatures as low as minus 18 degrees Celsius were recorded in Baikonur.

"One of the differences between being here in the wintertime and summertime is we walk much faster between buildings," Marshburn said.

The crew, who is planning to play a guitar on the ISS, were treated to a guitar song during the news conference.

"As an astronaut, we ride rockets for a living, so it's important for us to be optimists, not pessimists. And the steps that they made on the moon opened the doors of invitation to us and what we are doing today as a group is continuing through that door and learning the things that we need to do and taking one small step at a time so that we can better understand where we are in the universe, and can better lead towards the future," Hadfield said.

The three crew members have been training for their mission for over four years. They will join their colleagues, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Evgeny Tarelkin, and NASA astronaut Kevin Ford at the ISS.

Chris Hadfield, according to media reports, will make history next year when he becomes the first astronaut from Canada to command the International Space Station.

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