International Space Station crew launches aboard Soyuz capsule - WDRB 41 Louisville News

International Space Station crew launches aboard Soyuz capsule

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The crew of International Space Station Expedition 40/41: (left to right) Alexander Gerst, Max Suraev and Reid Wiseman. (Photo credit: NASA) The crew of International Space Station Expedition 40/41: (left to right) Alexander Gerst, Max Suraev and Reid Wiseman. (Photo credit: NASA)
Reid Wiseman (American) (Photo credit: NASA) Reid Wiseman (American) (Photo credit: NASA)
Max Suraev (Russian) (Photo credit: NASA) Max Suraev (Russian) (Photo credit: NASA)
Alexander Gerst (German) (Photo credit: NASA) Alexander Gerst (German) (Photo credit: NASA)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The next crew of the International Space Station launched at 3:57 p.m. EST Wednesday -- the first leg of a six-month stay aboard the station.

American Reid Wiseman, Russian Max Suraev and European astronaut Alexander Gerst took off aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Russia. They are expected join a crew of three who are already aboard the station.

WDRB News spoke with the three astronauts as they were preparing for their mission back in March. Wiseman's enthusiasm was palpable when he spoke of the idea of families seeing the space station from their own backyards.

Click HERE to see the original interview.

"I want them to come outside, and I want them to bring their kids outside, and just look up and watch this thing fly overhead," Wiseman said. "And then, when they see this little tiny star, I want them then to just think in their heads that there are six little humans floating around in there, and they're going 18,000 miles an hour!"

Gerst agreed.

"On that little dot of light that travels over our heads, somebody lives in there, right?" Gerst said. "It looks like a satellite or a star that's moving – a shooting star. The difference is that this object was built by us – us humans."

For Suraev, who has been to the space station before, the chief satisfaction in going to the space station is the chance to do science.

"This is really human laboratory for science experiment," Suraev said. "The people right now who are flying and doing these experiments, they really want to make our lives better. To make our lives healthier. To make humans' bodies living more time and – longer – and to be in good shape as long as we can. We build this to help our human generation…to be stronger, better and happier than we are right now."

One thing that has been a concern in recent months is the breakdown in the relationship between the governments of the United States and Russia over Russia's recent annexation of Crimea and the presence of Russian troops along the border of Ukraine. Currently the United States is dependent upon Russian Soyuz capsules to travel to the International Space Station, since the U.S. retired its fleet of space shuttles.

We asked the crew back in March how these tensions might affect the International Space Station program.

"It would be naive to say it does not cast a shadow," Wiseman said. "But...even during these kind of trying political times, my Russian commander Max Suraev, you know, he walks in the room this morning, we give each other a hug and he asks how my night went. And you realize that, once you remove politics, people are people. And for the most part, people love other people. And it's fantastic to work with these guys."

Suraev said foreign policy is one thing, but space station science is another: and he and his crew have nothing to do with foreign policy.

"It's not going to involve someone from my crew, and it's not going to change our flight or our relations," Suraev said in March. "I believe that it's not for us. We are cosmonauts and astronauts. We are professionals. We are not doing politicians' work."

"The very first time we met, we spent in a Russian forest at -30 degrees without a tent, without a sleeping bag, for three nights, just surviving with the little bit of equipment that we have in the spacecraft," Gerst added, explaining that nothing -- not even the Russian/Ukraine situation -- could break the camaraderie among his crew. "That brings us all together. You become friends."

On a lighter note, when asked if he could find a few moments on his six-month stay aboard the space station to take some pictures of Louisville, Wiseman said he'd see what he could do to make it happen.

"If you give me some coordinates, I will do my best to take a couple of pictures from the space station," he said. "Obviously, I'm an American. I want to check out our country, but I want to check out the whole world too. And I really look forward to that. So shoot me some coordinates. Send them to us, alright? We'll try and take them."

And what about the hope that someday, a WDRB Snow Fox might take a ride to the International Space Station?

"My bags are already packed, but I know a couple of people coming down the road, so if there's any way NASA would allow it, I think it would be really cool!" Wiseman laughed.

OPEN LETTER TO NASA: Send Snow Fox to Space!

Top 10 Reasons to Send Snow Fox to Space!

Travis K. Kircher is a Web Producer for WDRB News, and a member of the National Space Society. He can be reached at tkircher@wdrb.com.

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