On December 21, Russians have launched their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with three astronauts to spend their Christmas holidays at the Earth’s orbit. Soyuz spacecraft will carry NASA astronaut Don Pettit, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, and Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers, from the European Space Agency (ESA), to the International Space Station. It is planned that the spacecraft will link to the International Space Station on Friday, December 23. Astronauts will spend the next 5 months on the space station and will return in May 2012. All three astronauts are veteran spaceflyers who’ve been to the space station before.
In addition to wide-ranging scientific research projects, the crewmembers will spend their time keeping up the station and fixing anything that might break. Pettit, Kononenko and Kuipers will join the other three astronauts on the space station in their mission and Christmas celebrations. The current crew of the space station has already set up the holiday decorations and sent a video Christmas greetings to the Earth. They are expecting to have a merry Christmas celebrations with great meals and gifts sent from their families and relatives.The six crewmembers (also named Expedition 30 team) are also expected to participate to the milestone event coming up on February 7, 2012 when the SpaceX Dragon capsule will launch and arrive at the International Space Station. After about three months in space, the Expedition 30 mission will change over to Expedition 31, and Kononenko will take over command of the International Space Station.