Baikonur, Kazakhstan: The Soyuz launch vehicle that will transport the UAE’s first astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, September 25, has been lifted by a crane to position, ready for launch. Checks will be done and it will then be fuelled up. Earlier on Monday, the Soyuz rocket was rolled out on a rail car.
Here's what happened today:
10.38 am local (9.38 am UAE)
Service tower lifted up and secured around the rocket.
10.25am local time (9.25 am UAE)
The crane has now come down, and the powerbelt is securely holding the Soyuz MS-15
9.45 am local (8.15am UAE)
The first phase of the installation took 10 minutes, in which it is lifted into position.
7.46am (6.46 am UAE)
Rocket eaches launch pad. It was moved from an assembly building in Baikonur Cosmodrome to launch pad No. 1.
6.46am (5.46 am UAE)
Suyuz rocket rolls out of assembly building.
This is the 144th flight of the Soyuz space craft and it will transport the three members of Expedition 61 to the International Space Station. It was moved from an assembly building in Baikonur Cosmodrome to launch pad No. 1. Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad No. 1 is the same launch site where Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin blasted off to space onboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft, becoming the first man in space on April 12, 1961.
Officials, members of the media, and crowds gathered outside the assembly building before sunrise to witness the roll out.
As per tradition since the first rollout in the 1960s, the Soyuz rocket is being rolled out shortly after sunrise. Salem Al Merri, Assistant Director General of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre, said: “We’re excited about the launch. They (cosmonaut and astronauts) are in great condition. A meeting was held for minor adjustments in the schedule. But so far, it’s all systems go.”
In command of the Soyuz spacecraft on the Wednesday flight is Russian commander Oleg Skripochka. Nasa astronaut Jessica Meir is Flight Engineer 1 while Hazzaa will be Flight Engineer 2.
The Soyuz-FG rocket and the Soyuz MS crew vehicle are Roscosmos’ veteran launchers. They are the longest operating spacecraft programme in the history of space exploration. Since 2011, the Soyuz rocket family has been the only system capable of sending humans to the ISS since the US’ Space Shuttle Programme was shut down.
The 50-metre-long Soyuz rocket is roughly the height of a 13-storey commercial building. It has a liftoff mass of between 310 and 313 tonnes. It’s a three-stage rocket that provides three stages of thrust using liquid oxygen and kerosene as propellants at various points into the flight.