BAIKONUR (Kazakhstan) (Sputnik) — Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui and NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren are expected to make a six-hour trip to the space station and dock to the Rassvet mini-research module at 05.46 a.m. Moscow time (02:46 GMT).
They will join Expedition 44 comprising Russian cosmonauts Commander Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko, and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.
This is the first piloted flight carried out by Russia after the failed launch of a Progress space freighter on April 28.
Kononenko plans to conduct a series of unique experiments on the ISS, including the testing of a remote control system that could be used in the future to operate space robots located on another planet.
As part of the experiments, the Russian cosmonaut plans to control two robots from the ISS – one located in St. Petersburg, Russia and another in Munich, Germany.
Kimiya Yui will conduct his own series of experiments related to the hypothetical "dark matter" which is invisible but is thought to account for most of the matter in the universe. Researchers are still trying to characterize the type of subatomic particle that dark matter is thought to be composed of.
The Soyuz-FG Thursday launch is the first piloted flight carried out by Russia after the failed launch of a Progress space freighter on April 28.
Initially scheduled for May 26, the flight was delayed after the April malfunction of the third stage of a variation of the Soyuz carrier rocket, a Soyuz 2.1a, which sent unmanned Progress M-27M cargo ship into an uncontrolled spin.
Progress M-27M burnt in the Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean after its improper separation from the Soyuz carrier rocket, which was caused by fuel leaks, according to Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.
Earlier this month, Russian Progress-M28M cargo spacecraft successfully delivered supplies for the ISS.