Gennady Padalka of Russia, American Michael Fincke and Andre Kuipers of the Netherlands take sun glasses, photographs of their wives, a pocket computer and music disks with them into orbit.
As flight commander Gennady Padalka said before the departure, he is taking into space sun glasses, personal photographs, a Russian-English guide and letters for the crew working in orbit now.
For his part, flight engineer of the ninth expedition Michael Fincke will be carrying a portable computer with him in orbit. You know how Americans like small computers - one can see photographs, write something and listen to music in them, the US astronaut said.
European astronaut Andre Kuipers has taken his favourite music disks with him for his ten-day flight on the ISS. "I will listen to music and look at Earth," he noted.
The "favourite toys" will help the crewmen to relax a little after their hard work -- the ninth expedition must fulfill a vast scientific program on the ISS. It is planned to carry out 42 experiments in the fields of space medicine, biology and astrophysics according to the Russian program alone. The crew will have to receive and unload three transport space ships - the Progress M1-11, Progress M-49 and Progress M-50.
Russia's manned Soyuz TMA-4 spacecraft has separated from its booster at 7.28 Moscow time and entered the International Space Station's orbit.
"The crewmen are feeling well, communication is all right, the spacecraft's systems are working normally after the separation," reports Russia's Mission Control. "We expect the crew commander to report the beginning of weightlessness," said a Mission Control spokesman.
The launch of the 9th ISS crew was made from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome on Monday at 7.18 a.m. Moscow time. The spacecraft will bring 3 astronauts to the ISS on April 21. The automatic docking with the ISS was tentatively scheduled on 9 a.m. Moscow time.
Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka is the commander of the crew, which also involves American astronaut Michael Fincke. Andre Kuipers, a European Space Agency astronaut, will spend ten days on the ISS and return to Earth on April 30 along with the 8th ISS crew, i.e. Michael Foale and Alexander Kaleri.