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Brazilian Leaves for Eight-Day Mission in Space

Brazilian first astronaut Marcos César Pontes is leaving this Wednesday, March 29, in The Centenary Mission, a name given in homage to another historic flight by the Brazilian Santos Dumont in aircraft 14-Bis, in 1906.

The Soyuz spacecraft in which Pontes is travelling should be launched from Baikonur base, in Kazakhstan headed for the International Space Station.

This is the 13th manned mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and is scheduled for liftoff at 11:30 pm tonight (Brazilian time), with Brazil’s first astronaut, Marcos Pontes, aboard.

Pontes has been in astronaut training for eight years preparing for this mission which is to last eight days. He will conduct a number of experiments aboard the ISS, most of them taking advantage of the lack of gravity, in order to study its effects on enzymes, proteins, DNA and various types of seeds.

Besides Marcos Pontes, astronauts Jeffrey Williams (American) and Pavel Vinogradov (Russia) will be making the trip aboard a Soyuz spacecraft that will be launched from the Yuri Gagarin platform (Gagarin was the world’s first astronaut, going into space in 1961) at the Russian rocket center in Baikonur.

Brazilians are calling the Pontes flight "The Centenary Mission," honoring the 100 years since Brazilian aviation pioneer Alberto Santos Dumont made the world’s first public flight in 1906.

"The more different countries participate in missions to the International Space Station the more chance there is that it will become a permanent work station," says US astronaut, Kirk Chairman, who is a backup for the flight.

Chairman declared that the Brazilian presence, although short, is important for expanding the ISS space program and its continued construction which means the addition of more modules. At the moment the ISS is the size of a football field and weighs 100 tons.

Agência Brasil

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