Backup and prime crews for Expedition 32 stand in front of their Soyuz rocket.
Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronaut Chris Hadfield is currently the backup for NASA astronaut Sunita Williams who is scheduled to take off for the International Space Station on a Soyuz spacecraft at 10:40:03 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Saturday, July 14.
If something should prevent astronaut Williams from launching, Hadfield would replace her. This means he would embark on a four-month mission as crewmember of Expedition 32/33 - including a stint as commander of the Station. As the launch approaches, Hadfield is participating in pre-launch activities alongside Williams. These include, but are not limited to, crew fit checks, traditional events, the roll out of the Soyuz and a crew news conference.
"Although it is very rare for a backup astronaut to be called to action," says Chris Hadfield, "Backup plans are absolutely critical to the success of space missions".
The Expedition crew consists of NASA Flight Engineer Sunita Williams, Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko. The backup crew consists of Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency, Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko and backup Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA.
Once Expedition 32/33 takes off successfully, Hadfield and his crew will continue to prepare for their launch to the International Space Station (ISS), now scheduled for December 5, 2012 as part of the crew of Expedition 34/35.