A powerful rocket that will carry cosmonauts and repair equipment to the hobbled Mir space station rolled Sunday to its launching pad - its last stop before Tuesday’s liftoff.
A team of some 400 experts will check the rocket and its capsule before it blasts off from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome.
“The cosmonauts know the work before them and we have no doubt that they’ll fulfill the orders they have been given,” said Gen. Yevgeny Kulnikov, chief of Russia’s military space program.
U.S. astronaut David Wolf will travel to Mir next month via space shuttle Atlantis.
Tuesday’s launch could do much to restore confidence in Russia’s ailing space program and the aging Mir station, a necessary step in restoring the country’s reputation as a space superpower.
The mission is aimed a repairing damage to Mir’s module, which ruptured and lost half its power in a collision June 25 with a cargo ship.
After docking with Mir on Thursday, cosmonauts Anatoly Solovyov and Pavel Vinogradov are scheduled to venture into Mir’s airless module Aug. 20 to repair the damage.
They are scheduled to make up to six spacewalks over the next two months to make repairs.