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This past July marked the second year since the space shuttle last flew in space. Yet there were two Americans on board the International Space Station (ISS). For the first time in the 50-plus years of spaceflight history, the United States is relying on another nation to fly its astronauts to space. One can lament and complain that this is the case, but this is the reality—a surprising reality for many Americans but a fortunate reality for our civilian space program. Born in the shadow of a Cold War, the American civilian space program has haltingly moved into an international collaborative venture. However, it is the Russians with whom we share a legacy of manned space flight. Perhaps, it is this legacy that makes this partnership surprisingly supportive. Our new partner now ferries our astronauts to the ISS, a laboratory built in space at considerable cost by this nation and our international partners. The men and women who work under this collaborative partnership seem oblivious to the many international diplomatic conflicts between the U.S. and Russia. It truly has become a very special and unique partnership. Like it or not, American astronauts are now launched to space from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Baikonur is located over 1300 miles southwest of Moscow, east of the Aral Sea on the route of the Moscow-Tashkent railway. It lies near the Syrdarya River, one of the major rivers of Central Asia, in a semi-arid zone with a sharply continental climate. It has hot dry summers and frosty winters with strong winds and little precipitation. In the summer, temperatures can go as high as 113° F, and in the winter it can drop down to -40°F. The yearly average temperature is about 55°F. I have had the opportunity to visit Baikonur a number of times and observe launches. In July 2012, I returned to Baikonur to observe the launch of yet another crew to the ISS. The preparations and activities leading up to this launch were typical of past flights from Baikonur, and future crews can expect the same.