Soyuz rocket launches on mission to space station

Jul 15, 2012 by DMITRY LOVETSKY
The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-05M space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, flies in the sky at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Sunday, July 15, 2012. The Russian rocket carries Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, U.S. astronaut Sunita Williams and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

A Russian Soyuz craft launched into the morning skies over Kazakhstan on Sunday, carrying three astronauts on their way to the International Space Station, where they will quickly start preparing for a frenzy of incoming traffic.

NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Yury Malenchenko and Japan's Akihito Hoshide are set to travel two days before reaching their three colleagues already at the permanent space outpost.

Families and colleagues watched the launch from an observation platform in the Russian-leased cosmodrome in the dry southern steppes of this sprawling Central Asian nation.

Liftoff took place at the exact scheduled time of 08:40 a.m. local time (0240 GMT), sending a deafening roar as the craft gained height.

Despite withstanding intense G-force pressure, the three astronauts looked relaxed in televised footage as they performed a series of routine operations.

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-05M space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, blasts off from the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Sunday, July 15, 2012. The Russian rocket carries Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, U.S. astronaut Sunita Williams and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

The Soyuz jettisoned three stages as it was propelled into orbit, which takes just over nine minutes.

At that stage, a doll given to Malenchenko as a mascot by his daughter and suspended over the three astronauts floated out of view on television footage, indicating the craft had escaped the earth's gravitational pull.

The shell that surrounds the capsule during the launch phase also peeled away, soaking the astronauts in bright yellow sunshine pouring through the viewing hatches.

The that deployed on the Soyuz after orbital entry will provide the craft with the power it needs during its two-day trip.

Williams, tightly squeezed into the cramped craft, gave a thumbs-up sign and waved to onboard cameras as chief Vladimir Popovkin congratulated the crew over radio control.

Malenchenko, who is piloting the Soyuz, is one of Russia's most experienced astronauts and is making his fifth voyage into space.

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, center, U.S. astronaut Sunita Williams, above, and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, gesture prior to the launch of the Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, Sunday, July 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Vyacheslav Oseledko, Pool)

Williams, who was born in Euclid, Ohio, and raised in Massachusetts, is on her second mission and will further extend the record for the longest sojourn in space for a female astronaut. The 46-year old astronaut, who is of Indian-American heritage, spent 195 days at the space station in 2006-2007.

Sunday's launch took place on the 37th anniversary of the landmark Apollo-Soyuz mission during which crafts from the United States and the Soviet Union docked in space, setting a precedent for scientific cooperation between the Cold War foes.

Williams said in a press conference ahead of the launch that the test mission laid the ground for a long-standing friendship and collaboration in the space program.

The Soyuz is schedule to dock Tuesday with the space station at 08:52 a.m. Moscow time (0452 GMT).

U.S. astronaut Sunita Williams, right, and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, walk to the rocket prior to the launch of the Soyuz-FG at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, Sunday, July 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Vyacheslav Oseledko, Pool)

Russians Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin and U.S. astronaut Joseph Acaba, who make up the crew of Expedition 32, have been working at the space station since mid-May.

The space station, which orbits up to 410 kilometers (255 miles) above the earth, is braced to handle an unprecedented level of traffic.

Japan's HTV3 cargo ship will dock with the next week and will be the first of nine craft making contact with the orbiting satellite over a 17-day span.

Expeditions 32 and the incoming Expedition 33 have 33 experiments planned for their stay at the orbiting laboratory.

Explore further: Huge sunspots and their magnetic structure observed by Hinode

5 /5 (6 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Three-man Soyuz crew departs for space station

May 15, 2012

(AP) -- A three-man crew blasted off from a space center in southern Kazakhstan Tuesday morning on board a Russian-made Soyuz craft for a four-and-half-month stay at the International Space Station.

Soyuz spacecraft lands safely in Kazakhstan

Jul 01, 2012

A Soyuz space capsule carrying a three-man multinational crew touched down safely Sunday on the southern steppes of Kazakhstan, bringing an end to their 193-day mission to the International Space Station.

Russian cargo ship launched to space station

Oct 30, 2011

A Russian cargo ship was launched successfully to the International Space Station on Sunday, clearing the way for the next manned mission and easing concerns about the station's future after a previous failed launch.

Astronauts blast off for Christmas space mission

Dec 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.

ISS crew prepares for repositioning

Mar 13, 2007

The Expedition 14 crew aboard the International Space Station was making final preparations Wednesday for a repositioning rocket firing.

Recommended for you

Bad weather delays Japan asteroid probe lift off

5 hours ago

Bad weather will delay the launch of a Japanese space probe on a six-year mission to mine a distant asteroid, just weeks after a European spacecraft's historic landing on a comet captivated the world.

Manchester scientists boost NASA's missions to Mars

14 hours ago

Computer Scientists from The University of Manchester have boosted NASA space missions by pioneering a global project to develop programs that efficiently test and control NASA spacecraft.

ESA image: The gold standard

14 hours ago

The Eutelsat-9B satellite with its EDRS-A payload is shown in the anechoic test chamber of Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse, France, having completed its final antenna pattern tests today.

Frost-covered chaos on Mars

14 hours ago

Thanks to a break in the dusty 'weather' over the giant Hellas Basin at the beginning of this year, ESA's Mars Express was able to look down into the seven kilometre-deep basin and onto the frosty surface ...

Rosetta's comet: In the shadow of the coma

21 hours ago

This NAVCAM mosaic comprises four individual images taken on 20 November from a distance of 30.8 km from the centre of Comet 67P/C-G. The image resolution is 2.6 m/pixel, so each original 1024 x 1024 pixel ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

SteveL
3 / 5 (2) Jul 15, 2012
Best wishes for these travelers, and in the future may space traffic that seems "unprecedented" today seem mundane in the near future.

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.