THUNDER BAY – At 07:12EST this morning Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, aboard a Soyuz space-craft blasted off into space. Hadfield is aboard the Soyuz spacecraft to reach the International Space Station. The CSA launch event, hosted by Canadian astronauts Robert Thirsk and David Saint-Jacques, was televised live on the CSA website as of 6:45 a.m.
Hadfield, who has earned distinctions as the first Canadian to operate the Space Shuttle’s Canadarm in space and the nation’s first to walk in space, will also serve as the first Canadian commander of the ISS.
The trio will dock its Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft to the Rassvet module on the Russian segment of the space station at 8:12 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 21. About three hours later, hatches between the Soyuz and the orbiting laboratory will open. Marshburn, Romanenko and Hadfield will be greeted by space station Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford of NASA and Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin of Roscosmos, who have been in orbit since late-October.
During the launch and two-day trip to the Space Station, Hadfield will strap into a Russian Soyuz capsule, just to the left of spacecraft skipper Roman Romanenko and National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Tom Marshburn. As the “left seater,” Hadfield will back up Romanenko, ready to shoulder the Soyuz piloting role if circumstances warrant—a demanding responsibility that Hadfield began to train for a decade ago.