Soyuz rocket erected at Kazakhstan
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Last Updated: Wednesday, March 31, 2010, 18:47
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 facility.

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.


First Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2010, 18:47

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