Expedition 53-54 Soyuz Commander Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA and their backups, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Scott Tingle and Shannon Walker of NASA conducted their first Soyuz vehicle fit check in the Integration Facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Aug. 28 and final qualification training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia Aug. 30 and 31. On September 1 both the prime and backup crews held a news conference and toured the Gagarin Museum at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. They viewed historic space artifacts, and visited Red Square in Moscow for traditional ceremonies, including the laying of flowers at the Kremlin Wall where Russian space icons are interred. The Expedition 53 crew participated in traditional ceremonies Sept. 6 at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, outside Moscow. Afterward, they departed for the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to complete training for launch of Misurkin, Vande Hei and Acaba Sept. 13 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in the Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft for a five-and-a-half-month mission aboard the International Space Station.
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