First Brazilian astronaut accompanies ISS replacements

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Russian-US crew bound for the International Space Station launched at 8:30 a.m. ALMT Thursday (0230 UTC) from the cosmodome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz TMA rocket. Included with the crew was Marcos César Pontes, 43, Brazil's first astronaut.

Pontes, who flies for the Brazilian Air Force, was joined on the trip by Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov and U.S. astronaut Jeffrey Williams. The Russian and U.S. astronauts will be spending the next six months onboard the ISS. In ten days Pontes will return along with outgoing astronauts American Bill McArthur and Russian Valery Tokarev.