October 22, 2012
Soyuz Rocket Moved Into Place For Tuesday Launch
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
The Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft that will carry a three-person crew to the International Space Station (ISS) later this week was moved into place on Sunday.
It will transport a trio of crew members -- American Flight Engineer Kevin Ford, Russian Flight Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin, and Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy -- to the ISS, where they will join US astronaut Sunita Williams, and Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko of Russia and Aki Hoshide of Japan.
According to Associated Press (AP) reporter Peter Leonard, the Soyuz flight will depart from a different launch pad than usual. TMA-06M will lift off from the Cosmodrome's launch pad 31, which has not hosted a manned launch since 1984, while the pad that is normally used is being modernized.
"In accordance with custom, the entrance to the hangar storing the Soyuz craft slid open in the pre-dawn darkness as Russian and U.S. space officials looked on and took photographs," Leonard said.
"By the end of the Soyuz's slow, half-hour trip from storage to the launch site resting on its side on a flatbed railway car, the sun had risen to reveal a cloudless sky," he added. "Over the following hour, the craft was raised into its upright launch position, setting it off starkly against a backdrop of rolling, tinder-dry steppe."
Alexei Kuznetsov, a spokesperson with Roscosmos (the Russian national space agency), told reporters that launch pad 31 had recently been renovated, and had already been successfully used for an unmanned mission earlier this year. He added that the primary launch pad, Site No. 1, was undergoing renovations similar to those completed at launch pad 31.
"The Soyuz's trip will last around two days and end when it docks with the Poisk module in the Russian segment of the ISS," Leonard said. "Ford, Novitsky and Tarelkin are scheduled to remain in orbit until March, covering a busy time at the space station that will include the first ever arrival of 'Cygnus,' a commercial cargo vehicle from the Orbital Sciences Corp., of Dulles, Virginia, scheduled for December."
"Another two commercial SpaceX Dragon craft are also expected over the same period, as are an additional four Russian Progress resupply vehicles," he added. "NASA's Tom Marshburn, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko will join the station in December, taking the place of Williams, Malenchenko and Hoshide, who are due to return to earth next month."