Space station crew members from three countries were set for launch early Sunday from Kazakhstan for a four-month deployment to join other members in orbit.
NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Japan’s Aki Hoshide and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko will join other crew members on the station, according to NASA.
The Soyuz TMA-05M is expected to be launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 8:40 a.m. Kazakhstan time (10:40 p.m. ET Saturday).
The Soyuz is expected to dock with the orbiting complex on Tuesday, NASA said.
The launch and docking of the Expedition 32 crew members coincides with the 37th anniversary of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the first docking of an American spacecraft with a Russian spacecraft.
The crew trained in Russia, as Russian Soyuz-family spacecraft remain the only means of transportation for crew members to and from the orbital station until at least 2015, and successfully passed all of the exams.
For Malenchenko, it will be his fifth long-duration spaceflight. Williams and Hoshide visited the ISS once each traveling on board a U.S. space shuttle. It will be their first flight experience with the Soyuz spacecraft.
The backup crew includes Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn.
“All systems are in good shape…we are ready for launch,” Lopota said.