Posts Tagged ‘Baikonur Cosmodrome’

Lift-off today for 6 hour fast-track journey to the ISS

March 28, 2013

The International Space Station‘s orbit varies between altitudes of 330 – 410 km and it orbits the Earth about 15 times a day. So a journey taking 6 hours to scale about 70 km of altitude per hour may not seem so impressive compared to the speeds on a German autobahn. But a trip which used to be completed on the 3rd day and 34 orbits after lift-off is going to be covered in 5hrs 49 mins and 4 orbits after launch later today. For its 3-man crew, the Soyuz craft can only carry enough fuel and supplies for at most a 4 day journey, so this fast-track approach will represent a major saving of fuel and supplies.

Soyuz is the longest serving manned spacecraft...

Soyuz is the longest serving manned spacecraft design in history (1967– ) , upgraded regularly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


(Following three unmanned, cargo-only test flights, the Expedition 35/36 crew is the first to try the technique. For the Soyuz crew of three, the fast track rendezvous is much the same as before, except that tasks are compressed.)

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Misurkin and Pavel Vinogradov are due to arrive at the orbiting laboratory just six hours after they launch at 4:43 p.m. EDT (2043 GMT). The liftoff will begin a months-long mission in orbit for the three men.

The trio will blast off from the Central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The mission’s Soyuz rocket rolled out to the launch pad on Tuesday (March 26) to prepare for today’s liftoff.

In the nearly 13 years since crews first began launching to the International Space Station, it has taken Russian Soyuz capsules and U.S. space shuttles about two days to reach the orbiting lab after liftoff. Now, NASA and Russia’s Federal Space Agency are testing out a new, accelerated schedule. The quick journey, which takes just four orbits of Earth, has been carried out by recent unmanned cargo spacecraft visiting the space station, but never by a crew.

Cassidy, Misurkin and Vinogradov are planning to join the station’s Expedition 35 mission for a roughly six-month stay. The current residents of the outpost are commander Chris Hadfield of Canada, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn.

Infographic: How astronauts are traveling to the International Space Station in hours instead of days.

Russia’s Mars jinx continues: Phobos-Grunt in big trouble; 3 days in parking orbit to fix computer problem

November 9, 2011

The jinx on Russia’s probes to Mars continues.

Phobos-Grunt launched successfully last night but failed to enter its departure trajectory when two engine burns failed – presumed due to computer problems. It is now in a “parking” orbit and the problem needs to be fixed within 3 days when its batteries will run out. The fuel tanks are still in place for the craft’s own thrusters and there is still thought to be some hope. If the problem cannot be fixed it will be the fourth successive failure of a Russian Mars mission.


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