Monday, December 20, 2010

Launch Notification: Soyuz-TMA 20

Courtesy of AGI's Launch Notification e-mails. AGI's E-mails are sent after every launch and include key spacecraft information such as: the date, time, launch site, launcher, international number, name, and owner. Get more information on thousands of satellites and other vehicles by viewing STK models, animations, and our encyclopedic "Spacecraft Digest" database at

New Launch: 2010 December 15, 1909 UTC
Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Launcher: Soyuz-U
International Designator(s): 2010-067A

SSC Name Owner
37254 SOYUZ-TMA 20 CIS

"A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying three crew members bound for the International Space Station blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday, kicking off a two-day flight to catch up and dock with the orbital lab complex.

"With Russian commander Dmitry "Dima" Kondratyev at the controls, the booster's first-stage engines roared to life on time and the rocket lifted off at 2:09:25 p.m. EST (1:09 am. Thursday local time), quickly climbing away from the same pad used by Yuri Gagarin at the dawn of the space age 50 years ago next April.

"Live television shots from inside the cabin showed Kondratyev in the capsule's center seat, flanked by Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli on his left and NASA astronaut Catherine "Cady" Coleman on his right. All three appeared relaxed and in good spirits as the rocket streaked toward space.

'Nine-and-a-half minutes later, the Soyuz TMA-20 capsule separated from the rocket's third stage and slipped into its planned preliminary orbit. Solar arrays and antennas deployed a few moments later and Russian flight controllers said the spacecraft was healthy and on course for a docking with the International Space Station around 3:12 p.m. Friday."

"If all goes well, Kondratyev will oversee an automated docking with the space station's Rassvet mini-research module Friday afternoon. Waiting to welcome them aboard will be Expedition 26 commander Scott Kelly, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka, who were launched to the station Oct. 7."

"The six-member Expedition 26 crew faces a busy timeline that includes research, normal maintenance, two Russian-segment spacewalks and work to unload a variety of supply ships. A Japanese HTV cargo craft is scheduled to arrive in late January, followed by a Russian Progress supply ship, the shuttle Discovery in early February and a European Automated Transfer Vehicle, or ATV, at the end of the month that will deliver another load of supplies and equipment.

"The shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to show up in early April along with another Progress later that month."

"Along with the government-sponsored supply ships and crew rotation flights, Coleman, Nespoli and Kondratyev also may get a chance to oversee the first visit by a commercial cargo craft, the Dragon capsule developed by SpaceX. The company carried out a successful test flight earlier this month and is pushing to combine the next two test flights into a single mission that would deliver supplies to the station next spring or summer."

"Kelly, Kaleri and Skripochka are scheduled to return to Earth in the Soyuz TMA-01M spacecraft on March 16, leaving Kondratyev, Coleman and Nespoli behind as the core members of the Expedition 27 crew. They will be joined on April 1 by Alexander Samokutyaev, Andrei Borisenko and Ronald Garan, scheduled for launch March 30 aboard the Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft."

Source: Spaceflight Now, "Crew from three nations launches aboard Soyuz"