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December 15th, 2010
03:06 PM ET

Ready for Liftoff

Crew members on the International Space Station are getting ready for some company. Three flight engineers are set to blast off from the Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday. Their total travel time, from launch to docking, will be 49 hours and 3 minutes.

Visiting a Cosmonaut museum (AFP/Getty Images)

It’s a long journey… especially when you consider the ISS is just about 320 kilometers (200 miles) above the Earth. That’s roughly the distance from London to Paris.  (It actually only takes several minutes to reach space.  It’s catching the ISS that’s the tricky part.)

The three new crew members of the ISS will include Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency and NASA astronaut Catherine “Cady” Coleman.  They’ll spend the next five months there.

But of course, the preparation started long ago.  CNN’s John Zarrella has followed Cady Coleman's training for a whole year.

Zarrella will speak to Coleman live from the ISS on Wednesday, December 22.

A comment from Coleman's husband really struck me. He says, "I'm sustained through knowing this is what Cady wants to do. This is what she lives her life to do." Whether we're here on Earth, or hundreds of kilometers above it, that kind of passion is truly admirable.

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Filed under: General • Personal musings • Space