New Launch: 2011 December 21, 1316 UTC
Site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Launcher: Soyuz-U
International Designator(s): 2011-078A
 
SSC Name Owner
38036 SOYUZ-TMA 03M CIS


"In bitterly cold weather, a Russian Soyuz rocket carrying a three-man all-veteran crew blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday, streaking into orbit and setting off after the International Space Station to boost the lab's crew back to six.

"With commander Oleg Kononenko at the controls in the ferry craft's center seat, flanked by European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers on his left and NASA flight engineer Donald Pettit to the right, the Soyuz TMA-03M's booster roared to life and climbed away from its snow-covered launching pad at 8:16:15 a.m. EST (GMT-5; 7:16:15 p.m. local time), roughly the moment Earth's rotation carried the launch site into the plane of the station's orbit.

"Trailing a brilliant plume of fiery exhaust, the workhorse rocket climbed away through a clear, dark sky, arcing to the east as it accelerated toward space a little more than an hour after sunset in Baikonur. Spectators braved temperatures near zero degrees Fahrenheit to watch the rocket's ascent." "The rocket appeared to perform flawlessly and about nine minutes after launch, the Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft separated from the booster's upper stage and slipped into orbit, its solar panels and antennas unfolding as planned as it set off after the space station." "Kononenko plans to oversee an automated approach and docking at the station's Rassvet module at 10:22 a.m. Friday. Standing by to welcome them aboard will be Expedition 30 commander Dan Burbank, Soyuz TMA-22 commander Anton Shkaplerov and flight engineer Anatoly Ivanishin, who were launched to the outpost Nov. 13." "One of the highlights of the Expedition 30 crew's stay aboard the station will be the planned berthing of a commercial cargo capsule built by Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, of Hawthorne, Calif. Launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida is targeted for Feb. 7."

Source: Spaceflight Now, "Next trio launches on space station's 30th expedition"

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