Baikonur (Kazakhstan): A Russian Soyuz
carrier rocket with a manned spaceship of the same name has
been installed at the Gagarin launch site of the Baikonur
cosmodrome on Wednesday.
A cosmodrome official told Itar-Tass, "The rocket
Soyuz-FG erection with the manned spaceship Soyuz TMA-18
attached to it went off in a standard way".
The International Space Station (ISS)-23/24 crew is to set
out from Baikonur on a journey to the ISS aboard the spaceship
on Friday morning for a six-month orbital mission.
According to the years-long tradition, the gate of the
assembly-and-test building (AATB) opened at seven am, local
time. A diesel locomotive slowly conveyed the carrier rocket
and the spaceship to the launch site. It took about two hours
to cover the two-kilometre route from the AATB to the launch
Tens of journalists, space-industry specialists, and
foreign tourists watched the conveyance of the 50-metre-long
cigarlike rocket body bearing the emblems of the Roscosmos
(Federal Space Agency), the US National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA), the space rocket corporation
Energia, and the flags of Russia and the United States.
A Roscosmos official has specified that the rocket liftoff
is scheduled for 08:04, Moscow time, on April 2. Within the
days remaining before the launch, specialists are to carry out
final checkups of the carrier rocket and the spaceship and
will prime the rocket with propellant.
On April 1, a State Commission is to officially confirm
crew membership for travel to the ISS.