Rocket blasts off with 2 Russians, 1 American

April 2, 2010 By PETER LEONARD , Associated Press Writer
The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with the Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft carrying a new crew to the international space station (ISS) blasts off from the Russian-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan, Friday, April 2, 2010. The Russian rocket is carrying U.S. astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson, Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

(AP) -- A Russian rocket blasted off from a space center in southern Kazakhstan into brilliant blue skies Friday, transporting a NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts to the International Space Station.

The Soyuz craft carrying California native Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Russians Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko rose from the on schedule.

Powerful booster rockets shattered the stillness of the immense and arid Kazakh steppe, propelling the Soyuz heavenward atop an iridescent flow of flames against the clear sky. Spectators gazed as the craft disappeared into a faint dot.

The craft, which thundered into orbit at more than 8,000 miles per hour (13,000 kilometers per hour) about 10 minutes into the flight, docks Sunday with the space station, orbiting about 200 miles (320 kilometers) above the Earth.

Live pictures broadcast from the craft showed expedition head Skvortsov smiling as a toy duck nicknamed "Quack" dangled overhead. Once the craft entered orbit, the fluffy talisman began to float, demonstrating .

"The vehicle is performing fine," Skvortsov was heard as saying after a long communications disruption due to static. Caldwell Dyson didn't respond to questions from Russian mission control in Moscow asking how she was, apparently due to to radio interference.

The same was used by Yuri Gagarin when he made the first human trip into orbit in 1961

William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for space operations, called the launch "super."

"This is an extremely positive crew and they're looking forward to their work," he said. "If we get the shuttle launched next week, it will be an extremely busy time for them after they get into orbit, but they're ready to go do their work."

Caldwell Dyson, Skvortsov and Kornienko will join the Russian commander Oleg Kotov, astronaut Timothy J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi of Japan on board the station.

Their missions ends in September, just before the U.S.'s last-ever shuttle flight launches from the Kennedy Space Center.

A U.S. space shuttle is scheduled to head to the space station next week. Discovery is set to launch Monday for a 13-day mission to add several tons of research equipment to the orbiting laboratory.

Before the pre-launch briefing early Friday, Caldwell Dyson - a lead vocalist in Houston-based all-astronaut rock band Max-Q - drew on her musical talents by regaling her friends, colleagues and relatives with a solo rendition of Garth Brooks' country hit "The River."

In a final statement to a commission of international officials, Caldwell Dyson said in Russian: "As our captain said, we are ready."

Explore further: Astronauts get go ahead for Good Friday launch


Related Stories

Rocket prepared for Soyuz space launch

March 31, 2010

(AP) -- Technicians at a space center in Kazakhstan have hoisted a rocket onto its launch pad ahead of Friday's blastoff of a NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts to the International Space Station.

Astronauts blast off for Christmas space mission

December 20, 2009

(AP) -- A Russian rocket blasted off from a cosmodrome in Kazakhstan lighting up the frigid Central Asian steppe Monday, shuttling an American, a Russian and a Japanese to the International Space Station.

NASA Announces New International Space Station Crew

October 18, 2006

NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency have named two astronauts and two cosmonauts to the next International Space Station crew, known as Expedition 15. Astronauts Clayton C. Anderson and Daniel M. Tani will travel to ...

Astronauts dock at International Space Station

December 22, 2009

A Russian rocket carrying three astronauts from Japan, Russia and the United States docked at the International Space Station Wednesday, the Russian flight control centre said.

Recommended for you

NASA missions harvest a passel of 'pumpkin' stars

October 27, 2016

Astronomers using observations from NASA's Kepler and Swift missions have discovered a batch of rapidly spinning stars that produce X-rays at more than 100 times the peak levels ever seen from the sun. The stars, which spin ...

A dead star's ghostly glow

October 27, 2016

The eerie glow of a dead star, which exploded long ago as a supernova, reveals itself in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of the Crab Nebula. But don't be fooled. The ghoulish-looking object still has a pulse. Buried ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Apr 02, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
not rated yet Apr 02, 2010
Most aircraft have their replacement on the drawing board before they fly the first test flight, what the heck happened with the Shuttle, 30 years isn't long enough to think of something?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.