BY JUSTIN RAY
Follow the launch of the Expedition 17 crew to the space station aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Reload this page for updates.
Additional coverage for subscribers:
FULL LENGTH EXPEDITION 17 LAUNCH MOVIE PLAY
LAUNCH OF EXPEDITION 17 ABOARD THE SOYUZ ROCKET PLAY
HIGHLIGHTS OF CREW'S LAUNCH DAY PREPS PLAY
VIEW OF PROGRESS 28P'S REENTRY ON MONDAY PLAY
PROGRESS 28P SUPPLY SHIP UNDOCKS FROM STATION PLAY
GANTRY TOWERS ENCLOSE SOYUZ ROCKET AT THE PAD PLAY
SOYUZ ROCKET ROLLED OUT TO BAIKONUR LAUNCH PAD PLAY
ASSEMBLY OF THE SOYUZ LAUNCH VEHICLE COMPLETED PLAY
CREW'S ACTIVITIES AT BAIKONUR PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3
EXPEDITION 17 MISSION PREVIEW BRIEFING PLAY
EXPEDITION 17 CREW PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING PLAY
THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2008
Commander Sergei Volkov, son of a famed Russian cosmonaut, deftly guided the Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft to a successful docking with the international space station today to complete a two-day chase that started with blastoff Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Read our full story.
1307 GMT (9:07 a.m. EDT)
The hooks and latches are confirmed closed, forming a seal between Soyuz and its docking port. Pressure and leak checks will be performed on the interface over the next two orbits before the hatchway is opened for the crew to enter into the station around 11:50 a.m. EDT.
1258 GMT (8:58 a.m. EDT)
Today's docking occurred at 8:57 a.m. EDT as the spacecraft flew over northern Kazakhstan.
1257 GMT (8:57 a.m. EDT)
Over the next few minutes, the Soyuz docking probe will retract to allow hooks and latches to bring the spacecraft to a firm seal with the station. Hatches between the two vehicles will be opened around 11:50 a.m. EDT.
1257 GMT (8:57 a.m. EDT)
DOCKING. The Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft has docked to the Pirs module of the international space station, delivering the Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov, flight engineer Oleg Kononenko and South Korean spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi.
1256 GMT (8:56 a.m. EDT)
All continues to go smoothly in today's rendezvous of the Soyuz to bring Expedition 17 to the station.
1254 GMT (8:54 a.m. EDT)
Distance is now 27 meters, closing at 0.17 meters per second.
1253 GMT (8:53 a.m. EDT)
Soyuz is 40 meters from the docking port, closing at 0.21 meters per second.
1251 GMT (8:51 a.m. EDT)
Now 55 meters separating Soyuz and the space station. The closure rate has slowed to 0.3 meters per second.
1250 GMT (8:50 a.m. EDT)
Soyuz remains under control of its KURS automated docking system guiding the capsule to the station. The crew is poised to take over for a manual docking if needed.
1249 GMT (8:49 a.m. EDT)
About 115 meters to go. Soyuz is closing at 0.74 meters per second.
1248 GMT (8:48 a.m. EDT)
Commands have been issued to begin the final approach.
1246 GMT (8:46 a.m. EDT)
The Soyuz has completed a flyaround maneuver to align with the docking port. The capsule will hold this position about 200 meters away for a few moments while Russian flight controllers assess the status of systems before proceeding with the final approach and docking.
1244 GMT (8:44 a.m. EDT)
Now less than 300 meters between the two craft as Soyuz approaches the station from below.
1237 GMT (8:37 a.m. EDT)
Just over two days since launching from Baikonur, the Soyuz has closed the distance between itself and the station to less than 1 kilometer.
1230 GMT (8:30 a.m. EDT)
The Soyuz spacecraft is nearing the space station for docking about 30 minutes from now at 9:00 a.m. EDT. The capsule will be linking up to the Pirs module.
TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 2008
A Soyuz rocket carrying South Korea's first astronaut and two cosmonauts bound for the international space station blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today and rocketed smoothly into orbit.
Read our launch story.
1129 GMT (7:29 a.m. EDT)
Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov, flight engineer Oleg Kononenko and South Korean spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi have arrived in orbit following a smooth launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. A pair of maneuvers later today and another one Wednesday will adjust the capsule's trajectory to set up for Thursday's docking with the space station.
Volkov and Kononenko are starting a six-month mission in space, while Yi will be visiting the station and returning to Earth on April 19 with the outgoing Expedition 16 station residents Peggy Whitson and Yuri Malenchenko.
1128 GMT (7:28 a.m. EDT)
The craft is completing the sequence to deploy power-generating solar arrays, as well as antennas for navigational and communication systems.
1125:39 GMT (7:25:39 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 9 minutes. CAPSULE SEPARATION! The Soyuz spacecraft is flying free after the upper stage finished its engine firing and then separated away. The capsule is in pursuit of the international space station for a planned docking around 9 a.m. EDT on Thursday.
1124:39 GMT (7:24:39 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 8 minutes. About a minute remains in the propulsion by the upper stage. The motor consumes kerosene and liquid oxygen just like the Soyuz rocket's other powerplants.
1123:39 GMT (7:23:39 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 7 minutes. Soyuz remains stable as the four-nozzle engine of the upper stage burns to achieve a safe orbit around Earth. Velocity is nearing 14,000 mph now.
1122:39 GMT (7:22:39 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 6 minutes. Upper stage is firing as the flight continues as planned, mission control says.
1122 GMT (7:22 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 5 minutes, 30 seconds. The crew reports all remains normal aboard the spacecraft.
1121:39 GMT (7:21:39 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 5 minutes. The core stage of the Soyuz rocket has shut down and separated, leaving the upper stage to complete the job of injecting the Soyuz capsule into orbit.
1120:39 GMT (7:20:39 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes. The core motor continues to fire on its propellant mixture of kerosene fuel and supercold liquid oxygen.
1120 GMT (7:20 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 3 minutes, 30 seconds. Live video from cameras in the cockpit show the crew enjoying the launch to space. A thumbs up from South Korean spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi.
1119:39 GMT (7:19:39 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 3 minutes. The safety escape tower and launch shroud have been jettisoned from the atop the Soyuz capsule.
1119 GMT (7:19 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes, 30 seconds. The crew reports it is feeling fine.
1118 GMT (7:18 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes, 15 seconds. The four strap-on boosters clustered around the Soyuz rocket's main stage have burned out and separated. The core motor continues to fire.
1118 GMT (7:18 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 90 seconds. The vehicle is being thrusted skyward on the power generated by the NPO Energomash RD-107 engines on each of the four strap-on boosters and the RD-108 engine of the core stage.
1117:39 GMT (7:17:39 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 60 seconds. One minute into this late afternoon ascent for the Soyuz rocket and its three-person crew from the Kazakh launch base. Expedition 17 flight engineer Oleg Kononenko is strapped into the left-hand seat, with commander Sergei Volkov in the center seat for his role as the Soyuz pilot and South Korean spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi in the right-hand seat.
1117 GMT (7:17 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 30 seconds. The Soyuz is heading on course for a rendezvous with the international space station 50 hours from now. The station currently is flying high above the southern Pacific Ocean.
1116:39 GMT (7:16:39 a.m. EDT)
LIFTOFF! The half-year space voyage of Expedition 17 begins as the Soyuz rocket launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome!
1115 GMT (7:15 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 40 seconds. The first umbilical arm has separated from Soyuz. The second will retract in the next few seconds.
1115 GMT (7:15 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 1 minute and counting. The Soyuz has been placed on internal power.
1114 GMT (7:14 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 2 minutes and counting. Rocket propellant tank pressurization is underway. The vehicle's onboard measurement system is activated. Oxidizer and fuel drain and safety valves of the launch vehicle have been closed.
1113 GMT (7:13 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 3 minutes and counting. The nitrogen purge of the combustion chambers of side and central engine pods of the rocket is being performed in preparation for ignition.
1112 GMT (7:12 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 4 minutes. The launch key has been inserted in the bunker for liftoff.
1111 GMT (7:11 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 5 minutes and counting. Systems of the Soyuz have switched to onboard control, the ground measurement system and the Soyuz commander's controls are being activated.
1110 GMT (7:10 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 6 minutes. The automatic program for final launch operations is being initiated.
1108 GMT (7:08 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 8 minutes. The station's current residents -- Peggy Whitson, Yuri Malenchenko and Garrett Reisman -- are watching an uplinked video broadcast of the launch. Whitson and Malenchenko will be returning to Earth on April 19 while Reisman joins Expedition 17 and remains aboard the station until the next space shuttle flight.
1107 GMT (7:07 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 9 minutes and counting. The crew has closed its helmet visors.
1106 GMT (7:06 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 10 minutes. The crew inside the Soyuz capsule are starting recorders to collect data during launch.
1102 GMT (7:02 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 14 minutes and counting. The Soyuz telemetry systems are being activated. They will relay real-time data back to Earth during today's launch.
1059 GMT (6:59 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 17 minutes. At this point in the countdown, realignment of the Soyuz rocket's trajectory control system and checks of internal batteries should be complete. The Soyuz telemetry system will soon be activated and monitoring of Soyuz's thermal control system also will begin.
1056 GMT (6:56 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 20 minutes and counting. The three-stage Soyuz rocket will insert the TMA-12 space capsule into a 143 by 118 mile orbit, inclined 51.6 degrees to the equator.
1051 GMT (6:51 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 25 minutes. The crew is completing leak checks of their Sokol launch spacesuits.
1046 GMT (6:46 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 30 minutes and counting. The emergency escape system is being armed. The system would be employed if a major malfunction occurs, propelling the Soyuz capsule off the top of the rocket to safety.
1041 GMT (6:41 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 35 minutes. A problem with a zipper on commander Sergei Volkov's spacesuit caused the pressure in the suit to drop, NASA says It appears the issue has been corrected.
1036 GMT (6:36 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 40 minutes. Retraction of the two-piece service structure that has enclosed the Soyuz rocket during its stay at the launch pad should be underway now. The towers will be rotating to a horizontal position. Several other umbilical arms connecting the rocket to the ground will be retracted at various times later in the countdown.
1031 GMT (6:31 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 45 minutes. Skies are clear at Baikonur for launch and temperatures are in the low 50s F, NASA says.
1026 GMT (6:26 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 60 minutes and counting. Station commander Sergei Volkov, flight engineer Oleg Kononenko and South Korean spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi were awakened about eight hours ago to begin launch day activities. They signed the doors at crew quarters and received religious blessings before boarding a bus that took the three crewmates the 25-mile distance into the cosmodrome. They donned their white Sokol launch and entry suits, met with Russian space officials and then headed for the pad. Crowds of well-wishers gathered to wave goodbye as the crew reached the pad. An elevator took the trio up to the capsule-level of the tower to begin climbing aboard the cramped spacecraft around 4:30 a.m. EDT.
1016 GMT (6:16 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 60 minutes and counting. The Soyuz rocket is fueled, the crew is aboard and the countdown is progressing for liftoff of the space station's Expedition 17 mission at 7:16 a.m. EDT (1116 GMT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
SUNDAY, APRIL 6, 2008
Two rookie Russian cosmonauts and South Korea's first astronaut will rocket into space Tuesday, riding aboard a Soyuz capsule in pursuit of the international space station.
Liftoff from the historic Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is scheduled for 7:16 a.m. EDT (1116 GMT), beginning a 9-minute ascent to orbit for the three-stage liquid-fueled booster.
It will take two days for the Soyuz TMA-12 capsule to the reach station, with docking to the Pirs compartment expected around 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) on Thursday. The linkup will deliver commander Sergei Volkov and flight engineer Oleg Kononenko to the orbiting complex for their six-month Expedition 17 mission.
Joining the cosmonauts for the trip to the station is South Korean spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi. Under a commercial agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency, she will spend more than a week aboard the outpost before returning to the Earth with departing Expedition 16 crewmates Peggy Whitson and Yuri Malenchenko. Landing of the Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft is scheduled for 4:38 a.m. EDT (0838 GMT) on Saturday, April 19.
Volkov, son of former cosmonaut Alexander Volkov, and Kononenko will oversee delivery of the Japanese Kibo science laboratory in early June along with NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman.
Reisman has been living on the station since mid-March, and will be part of Expedition 17 until the next shuttle arrives around June 2 with Kibo and his replacement, astronaut Greg Chamitoff.
Activation and testing of the Kibo module will be the primary forcus for Volkov, Kononenko and Chamitoff during the summer. The two cosmonauts also plan to conduct a spacewalk outside the Russian segment of the station in mid-July.
The comings and goings of several Russian-made Progress resupply ships, plus the unloading of cargo from the newly arrived Automated Transfer Vehicle and its early August departure will be completed by the Expedition 17 crew.
On Sunday morning, the Expedition 17 crew's Soyuz was rolled from its hangar to the launch pad. Mounted horizontally on a railcar, the rocket journeyed along a winding route from the integration facility at Site 254 to the pad under sunny skies.
Hydraulic pistons lifted the rocket upright on the pad and gantry swing arms moved into position to enclose the vehicle. Technicians on four levels hooked up electrical and telemetry cables between the rocket and pad.
Here is an overview the key events in Tuesday's countdown, as provided by NASA:
- T- 6:00:00 Batteries are installed in the booster
- T- 5:30:00 State commission gives "go" to take launch vehicle
- T- 5:15:00 Crew arrives at site 254
- T- 5:00:00 Tanking begins
- T- 4:20:00 Spacesuit donning
- T- 4:00:00 Booster is loaded with liquid oxygen
- T- 3:40:00 Crew meets delegations
- T- 3:10:00 Reports to the State commission
- T- 3:05:00 Transfer to the launch pad
- T- 3:00:00 Vehicle first and second stage oxidizer fueling complete
- T- 2:35:00 Crew arrives at launch vehicle
- T- 2:30:00 Crew ingress through orbital module side hatch
- T- 2:00:00 Crew in re-entry vehicle
- T- 1:45:00 Re-entry vehicle hardware tested; suits are ventilated
- T- 1:30:00 Launch command monitoring and supply unit prepared;
-- Orbital compartment hatch tested for sealing
- T- 1:00:00 Launch vehicle control system prepared for use; gyro instruments activated
- T- :45:00 Launch pad service structure halves are lowered
- T- :40:00 Re-entry vehicle hardware testing complete; leak checks performed on suits
- T- :30:00 Emergency escape system armed; launch command supply unit activated
- T- :25:00 Service towers withdrawn
- T- :15:00 Suit leak tests complete; crew engages personal escape hardware auto mode
- T- :10:00 Launch gyro instruments uncaged; crew activates on-board recorders
- T- 7:00 All prelaunch operations are complete
- T- 6:15 Key to launch command given at the launch site;
-- Automatic program of final launch operations is activated
- T- 6:00 All launch complex and vehicle systems ready for launch
- T- 5:00 Onboard systems switched to onboard control;
-- Ground measurement system activated by RUN 1 command;
-- Commander's controls activated;
-- Crew switches to suit air by closing helmets;
-- Launch key inserted in launch bunker
- T- 3:15 Combustion chambers of side and central engine pods purged with nitrogen
- T- 2:30 Booster propellant tank pressurization starts;
-- Onboard measurement system activated by RUN 2 command;
-- Prelaunch pressurization of all tanks with nitrogen begins
- T- 2:15 Oxidizer and fuel drain and safety valves of launch vehicle are closed;
-- Ground filling of oxidizer and nitrogen to the launch vehicle is terminated
- T- 1:00 Vehicle on internal power;
-- Automatic sequencer on;
-- First umbilical tower separates from booster
- T- :40 Ground power supply umbilical to third stage is disconnected
- T- :20 Launch command given at the launch position;
-- Central and side pod engines are turned on
- T- :15 Second umbilical tower separates from booster
- T- :10 Engine turbopumps at flight speed
- T- :05 First stage engines at maximum thrust
- T- :00 Fueling tower separates;
-- Lift off
Watch this page for live updates during the final countdown and launch.
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