A Russian state commission on Friday gave the final approval for the main and backup crews of a new expedition to the International Space Station (ISS) ahead of their launch on July 15.
The new crew comprises Russian cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko, NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and Japan’s Space Agency (JASA) astronaut Akihito Hoshide.
The backup crew includes Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn.
The crews have 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.
Russia's Soyuz-FG rocket with Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft carrying the new crew has been scheduled to lift off at 6.40 a.m. Moscow time (02:40 GMT) on Sunday from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan.
The Soyuz TMA-05M is expected to dock with the orbital station on July 17.
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 new crew members will join the current ISS crew, which includes Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, who have been in orbit since mid-May.
Vitaly Lopota, the head of the Russian space corporation Energia, told the commission on Friday that the spacecraft and ground control services were ready to carry out the launch.
“All systems are in good shape…we are ready for launch,” Lopota said.