by Neville Choi – EM TV News, Port Moresby
A Russian spacecraft was successfully launched early this morning, taking Japanese astronaut, Kimiya Yui, and two other crew members from Russia and the United States, to the International Space Station.
The Soyuz spacecraft launched from a space centre in Kazakhstan.
Nearly six hours after blasting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrone at two minutes past 3am local time, and separating from the launch rocket nine minutes later as scheduled, the spacecraft reached its destination at an altitude of 400 kilometres at 8.45am.
Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko, 51 of Russia, flight engineer Kimiya Yui, 45 of Japan, and Flight Engineer, Kjell Lindgren of the United States made the successful docking with the international space station.
Yui, the 10th Japanese to travel into space and the fifth to stay at the ISS for a long term mission, will be carrying out various experimen’s at Kibo, Japan’s laboratory at the ISS, during his five-month stay.
Calling him a “star of middle-agers,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, wished Yui “great success in space by utilizing various experiences he has had.”
Abe also mentioned his background as a test pilot in Japan’s Air Self-Defence Force.
Among those who celebrated the successful launch in Japan, were about 600 people who gathered for a public viewing of the event in Yui’s hometown of Kawakami, Nagano Prefecture, and his former co-workers in the Self Defence Forces.
At the ISS, the US and Russian astronauts have been working to collect basic data to eventually realise a manned flight to Mars.
Yui is set to support their work.