With the sun rising over the frigid desert of central Asia, a Russian rocket was pushed by train Sunday to an isolated launch pad for the first space flight from here by an American.
Those who have lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome include Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space; Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space; and Alexei Leonov, first spacewalker and commander of the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz docking mission.
On Tuesday, it’s Norman Thagard’s turn.
Thagard, a NASA astronaut, is scheduled to blast off Tuesday on the Soyuz rocket with two Russian cosmonauts, heading for the Russian space station Mir.
Thagard’s flight to Mir is part of a U.S.-Russian space cooperation agreement that is supposed to lead, at the very least, to the construction of a new international space station.