Prepare for lift-off.
A Soyuz spacecraft is set to transport a special package into orbit on Tuesday: a new three-man crew for the International Space Station.
Scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:17 p.m. EDT, the Russian rocket will ferry to the station U.S. astronaut Steve Swanson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev.
The three remaining members of the Expedition 39 crew will join U.S. astronaut Rick Mastracchio, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, and cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, who have been aboard the ISS since November. Mastracchio, Wakata and Tyurin are slated to return to Earth in May, while the new arrivals will stay aloft until their six-month stay ends in September.
NASA officials said the launch would not be affected by recent diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and Russia.
"I think people lose track of the fact that we have occupied the International Space Station now for 13 consecutive years uninterrupted, and that has been through multiple international crises," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said during a press conference earlier this month.
Watch the Soyuz launch live, starting at 4:15 p.m. EDT, above.
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