Sunday, December 20, 2009

Expedition 22 crew headed for Space Station

images via NASA & energia

The 22nd expedition crew is bound for the International Space Station.

On a beautiful, cold evening in Kazakhstan at the Baikonur Cosmodrome tonight, an American, Russian and Japanese astronaut boarded their Soyuz spacecraft and lifted-off toward a holiday link-up with earth's orbital outpost in space.

As a crescent Moon hung over the space center, American astronaut Timothy (T.J.) Creamer, Russian cosmonaut Oleg V. Kotov and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi boarded their Soyuz TMA-17 craft perched a top a Soyuz FG LV rocket at pad 1 two hours before launch.

As the countdown reached zero, fuel and support arms retracted away from the 151-foot tall rocket. The Soyuz FG's four liquid fueled boosters and core main engine ignited on time launching the international crew of three upward at 4:52 pm EST (2152 GMT) from it's pad.

As the Soyuz launched, the Space Station flew 224 statue miles over the southern coast of Chilie, South America.

Two minutes into the rocket's climb to orbit, the boosters emptied their fuel and were jettisoned. Seven minutes later, the craft was in low earth orbit of 125 statue miles.

Creamer is making his first trip into space, while Kotov and Noguchi are each making their second visit to the space station.

After completing 34 orbits of the earth, the Soyuz TMA17 will make a slow approach to the station and dock to the Russian Zarya module on Tuesday. Docking time is planned for 5:54 pm EST (1:54 am Moscow time), howe
ver docking will likely happen a few minutes earlier than planned based on the quickness of their orbital rendezvous.

Once docked, the trio will join
Expedition 22 Commander Jeffery Williams and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev who have been aboard the space station since October 2.

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