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december 01, 2015 - European Space Agency

ESA - Tim arrives in Baikonur on his last stop before space

ESA astronaut Tim Peake, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and Roscosmos commander Yuri Malenchenko arrived at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today ahead of their launch to the International Space Station.

Set for launch on 15 December, the trio will visit their Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft for the first time tomorrow.

The run-up to launch includes preparing experiments, numerous medical checkups and physical training, as well as reviewing plans for the six-hour flight to the Space Station.

During this time the astronauts will minimise contact with people to avoid falling ill and bringing unwanted bacteria or viruses to their colleagues in space.

The three will spend almost six months in space working on weightless experiments and maintaining the Station as it circles Earth some 400 km up.

Tim’s Principia mission will see him run experiments for researchers from all over our planet, including trying to grow blood vessels and protein crystals, and using a furnace to melt and cool metal alloys as they float in midair.

The two Tims have trained to perform spacewalks and are ready to work together if mission control decides to send them outside.

All Soyuz astronauts enjoy a number of traditions before launch, including planting a tree, visiting a spaceflight museum and signing the door to their room in the Cosmonaut Hotel.

Follow the whole mission, including the time in Baikonur and the launch, via ESA’s Principia blog.