BAIKONUR (Kazakhstan), November 11 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s Soyuz carrier rocket with the manned spacecraft of the same name on Friday morning was installed on the first – Gagarin’s launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome.
“The moving to the pad and installation of the Soyuz-FG carrier rocket with the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft attached to it passed nominally,” a representative of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) at the southern spaceport said. On Monday, November 14, the crew of the next long-term Expedition 29/30 to the International Space Station (ISS) will fly into orbit on this ship.
The gate of the operations and checkout building opened at 07:00 a.m., local time (05:00 MSK), according to the long-standing tradition. A locomotive guarded by policemen slowly transported the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle with the Soyuz TMA-22 spaceship attached to it to the launch pad. The locomotive with the rocket covered the two-kilometre way to the launch pad in about two hours.
Dozens of journalists, experts of the space industry, foreign tourists and VIP-guests were watching the moving out of the 50-metre “cigar” with the emblems of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Rocket and Space Corporation Energia and the flags of Russia and the United States at the fairing.
The Federal Space Agency specified that the rocket launch is scheduled for 08:14 MSK on November 14. In the remaining days before the launch specialists will conduct the final checks of the rocket with the Soyuz TMA-22 ship attached to it and will fuel the launch vehicle. It is the last ship of the generation of the so-called analogue Soyuzes. All the following ships will be equipped with digital technology.
On Saturday, November 12, the state commission will finally approve the crew that will fly to the ISS. Awaiting the commission’s meeting the main crew of Expedition 29/30 to the ISS – Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, Anatoly Ivanishin and NASA astronaut Daniel Burbank, as well as backup crew Gennady Padalka, Sergei Revin and Joseph Acaba conduct the final pre-flight training, exercise and breathe the Earth’s fresh air during their daily walks.
TMA-22 will be the 111th flight of a Soyuz spacecraft, and will transport three members of the Expedition 29 crew to the ISS. The Soyuz will most likely remain docked to the ISS throughout the Expedition 29 increment to serve as an emergency escape vehicle. TMA-22 will be the final flight of a Soyuz-TMA vehicle, following its replacement by the modernised TMA-M series. The launch of Soyuz TMA-22 was originally scheduled for 30 September 2011, but was delayed until November 14 following the launch failure of the Progress M-12M resupply vehicle on 24 August 2011.
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes. The ISS serves as a research laboratory that has a microgravity environment in which crews conduct experiments in many fields including biology, human biology, physics, astronomy and meteorology. The station has a unique environment for the testing of the spacecraft systems that will be required for missions to the Moon and Mars. The station is expected to remain in operation until at least 2020, and potentially to 2028. Russia’s next planned space station OPSEK, is to be separated prior to the ISS’ deorbiting to form a new, separate space station, intended to support deep space exploration. Like many artificial satellites, the ISS can be seen from Earth with the naked eye. The ISS is operated by Expedition crews, and has been continuously staffed since 2 November 2000.
The ISS is a joint project between the five participating space agencies, the American NASA, the Russian RKA, the Japanese JAXA, the European ESA, and the Canadian CSA. The ownership and use of the space station is established in intergovernmental treaties and agreements which divide the station into two areas and allow the Russian Federation to retain full ownership of Russian Orbital Segment (ROS)/(RS), with the US Orbital Segment (USOS) allocated between the other international partners. The station is serviced by Soyuz spacecraft, Progress spacecraft, the Automated Transfer Vehicle and the H-II Transfer Vehicle, and has been visited by astronauts and cosmonauts from 15 different nations.
The ISS provides a platform to conduct scientific research that cannot be performed in any other way. Whilst unmanned spacecraft can provide platforms for zero gravity and exposure to space, the ISS offers a long-term environment where studies can be performed potentially for decades, combined with ready access by human researchers over periods that exceed the capabilities of manned spacecraft. Kibo is intended to accelerate Japan’s progress in science and technology, gain new knowledge and apply it to such fields as industry and medicine. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), which NASA compares to the Hubble telescope, could not be accommodated on a free flying satellite platform, due in part to its power requirements and data bandwidth needs. The Station simplifies individual experiments by eliminating the need for separate rocket launches and research staff.