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Snapshot: Putting the Cart Before the (Rocket) Workhorse

It's a sceneof two eras colliding: A product of the Space Age ? Russia's reliableSoyuzrocket stands ready to launch a brand-new spacecraft model on itsmaiden voyagewhile a rustic cart of metal sits in the foreground.

NASAphotographer Carla Cioffi took the photo Tuesday (Oct. 5) as the Soyuzwasprepared to launch two cosmonauts and an American astronaut toward the InternationalSpace Station from the Central Asian spaceport of BaikonurCosmodrome inKazakhstan. Riding atop the rocket is a Soyuz TMA-01M spacecraft, thenewestmodel of Russia's long-running line of Soyuz space capsules.

Russia'sSoyuz rockets and space capsules are the workhorses of the country'shumanspaceflight program. The new Soyuz TMA-01M model features new guidance,navigation, control and data processing systems, and an improvedcooling devicefor the electronics.

The Soyuzrocket and TMA-01M capsule is the orbital ferry for Russian cosmonautsAlexander Kaleri, Oleg Skripochka, and Americanastronaut Scott Kelly. The three men are set to launch lateThursday (Oct.7) at 7:10 p.m. EDT (2310 GMT), though it will actually be 5:10 a.m.Fridaylocal time at their launch site.

Kelly andthe cosmonauts are beginning the months-long Expedition25/26 mission to the International Space Station. Bycoincidence, Kelly hasan identical twin brother ? Mark Kelly ? who is also an astronaut. [Video:NASA's Identical Twin Astronauts]

The Kellyastronaut brothers are expected to meet up in space inFebruary 2011. ScottKelly will be serving as space station commander at that time, whilehisbrother Mark (who is older by six minutes) will command NASA's finalflight ofthe space shuttle Endeavour.

NASAwillbroadcast the upcoming Soyuz spacecraft launch live onNASA TV,beginning at 6:15 p.m. ET.Clickhere for space station missionupdates and a link to NASA TV.

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Tariq Malik

SPACE.COM EDITOR IN CHIEF — Tariq joined the Space.com team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Google+, Twitter and on Facebook.