Russian-US crew launches to ISS

Added by on October 23, 2012

A Soyuz carrying two Russians and one American launched on Tuesday, marking the 115th flight of a Syouz spacecraft and the first time since 1985 that launch pad 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan was used 1984 to send a human crew into space.

The launch took place atop a Soyoz FG rocket at 10:51UTC/GMT and was inserted into orbit around the Earth nine minutes later. It is expected to take two days and 34 orbits for the spacecraft to catch up with the International Space Station.

The spaceflight, numbered Souyz TMA-06M, is scheduled to dock with the ISS on October 25 at 12:35GMT/UTC. The docking will take place in the ISS Russian section where the spacecraft will remain for the duration of the mission, acting as the emergency escape vehicle.

The crew of three joins U.S. astronaut Sunita Williams, Russia’s Yuri Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide of Japan currently on the ISS.

The crew’s three member team is Oleg Novitskiy, Commander; Evgeny Tarelkin, First Flight Engineer; Kevin A. Ford, NASA, Second Flight Engineer. Of the three crew, only Ford has been on one previous mission.

The launch of Souyz TMA-06M is the 129th mission to the ISS. NASA retired its fleet of space shuttles in 2011 and are Russia about $63 million per astronaut for missions to the ISS. NASA is exploring using commercial operators for its ISS resupply missions; earlier this month SpaceX launched and successfully docked its Dragon spacecraft with the ISS.

The Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was used for many notable launches including the launch of Sputnik 1, the fist man-made satellite, in 1957; the first manned orbital flight in 1961 by Yuri Gagarin, and the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova, in 1963.