A Russian state commission has given a final approval for the crew of a new expedition to the International Space Station (ISS).
The new crew comprises Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli. They will stay on board the ISS for at least 152 days.
The Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft is scheduled for launch at 10:09 p.m. Moscow time (4:09 a.m. in Manila) on Wednesday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.
During the session of the commission on Tuesday, Anatoly Perminov, head of Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos, congratulated Coleman on her birthday and gave her a scaled model of Soyuz TMA as a present.
The U.S. astronaut, who turned 50, said she was honored to be a member of the new crew and played flute for officials and reporters at the meeting.
Coleman earlier said she would take the flute on her trip to the ISS to “lighten up” the life on board the orbital station.