BAIKONUR, May 15 (Itar-Tass) — The pre-launch preparations, launch and putting the spaceship Soyuz TMA-04M on the orbit passed as scheduled, head of the Federal Space Agency Vladimir Popovkin told reporters on Tuesday.
“During few next days the spaceship will make several manoeuvres to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) in the morning on May 17,” he noted.
In reply to a journalist’s question whether he felt some worry before the launch Popovkin recalled that the crew had to pass to another descent capsule. “We had to deviate from the scheduled preparations. Some operations were made at the spaceport rather than at the plant. This added some worries,” the Roscosmos head elaborated.
The Soyuz launch was delayed for two months over the depressurization of the descent capsule during ground tests, therefore the orbital mission of the ISS-31/32 crew lasted just four and a half months, but not more than five months as it happened during the previous expeditions. The ISS backup crew Oleg Novitsky, Yevgeny Tarelkin and Kevin Ford will stay on the Earth until the middle of October.
Popovkin also acknowledged that “each time he worries about a spaceman, who goes on his first space mission.” Sergei Revin was a novice in this crew. Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina and Skolkovo Foundation President Viktor Vekselberg attended the piloted launch from the southern Russian spaceport Baikonur for the first time. The Federal Space Agency invited honorary guests for the launch. “Each launch is a remarkable event with a major amount of work preceded to it. There are many impressions. They can hardly be expressed in several words,” Nabiullina noted. In general the honorary guests acknowledged that they are satisfied with their visit to Baikonur.
The Russian piloted spaceship Soyuz launched at 07:01 Moscow time on Tuesday from the spaceport Baikonur and was put on the designated orbit. The spaceship Soyuz TMA-04M has the ISS-31/32 crew of Gennady Padalka, Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joe Acaba.