soyuz launch

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November 28, 1966 - Soyuz rocket makes its inaugural flight.

Beginning an unprecedented reign of launch service, the Soyuz rocket was introduced 50 years ago today, on November 28, 1966.

Derived from the R7 class of missiles, which launched the world’s first satellite and human into space, the Soyuz featured upgrades and modifications allowing the launch of a new, heavier, three-person vehicle in development at the time. Over 1,000 flights have been performed under the Soyuz name, and have launched payloads ranging from the namesake Soyuz spacecraft, Progress cargo freighter, smaller modules of the International Space Station, Bion bioscience missions and countless satellites.

More than a dozen subvariants of the rocket have been developed in accordance to specific payloads or newer systems, but the overall design of the rocket has remained the same. Four strap-on boosters act as the rocket’s first stage, while the core ignites further into the flight as the second stage. While a third stage provides the final push into orbit for most Soyuz flights, some variants of the rocket, such as the Fregat and Soyuz-U, use additional upper stages to place their payloads into the proper orbit.

For most of its operational life, Soyuz only launched from Russian cosmodromes at Baikonur or Plesetsk; beginning in 2012, the launcher began flights out of the Guiana Space Center in South America, operating under contract to Arianespace. 2016 saw its first flight from the new Vostochny spaceport in Eastern Russia, where the rocket will finish out its operational life.

Soyuz is currently in its final production series, and, along with the Soyuz spacecraft, will be phased out in the mid 2020s for the Federation spacecraft atop Angara.

The final four images show a Soyuz-FG launching from the Guiana Space Center, two Soyuz FG rockets launching from Baikonur, and a Soyuz 2.1-b launching from Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

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Expedition 50 Soyuz Launch (NHQ201611180003) by NASA HQ PHOTO
Via Flickr:
The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with Expedition 50 crewmembers NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, (Kazakh time) (Nov 17 Eastern time). Whitson, Novitskiy, and Pesquet will spend approximately six months on the orbital complex. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

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A Soyuz 2-1b rocket was rolled to the launch pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome yesterday ahead of its Friday, March 12, launch.

Soyuz will loft the Resurs P3 Earth observation satellite into polar orbit. The third of four satellites in the Resurs series, the spacecraft will take high-resolution photography of the surface below for civilian use. Liftoff is scheduled for 1:56pm EST.

The Soyuz TMA-22 rocket is seen at the Soyuz launch pad during a snow storm the morning of the launch of Expedition 29 to the International Space Station at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Monday, Nov. 14, 2011.

via reddit

The Mir base module was launched on 20 February 1986. Large expansion modules, launched on Proton rockets, were periodically added to the station. These modules used automated docking techniques developed during the missions of Salyut 6 and 7.

Crews were launched using Soyuz rockets and capsules. Progress spacecraft, also launched on Soyuz rockets, carried food, fuel, water, and other supplies to the station.

Starting in July 1995, several American space shuttles docked with the Mir station. Seven American astronauts lived onboard the station for extended periods of time. Shannon Lucid’s six month tour was the longest American stay on the station.

Cosmonauts performed many long duration stays aboard the station. Several spent over one year on the station. Dr. Valeri Polyakov lived aboard the station for a record 438 consecutive days.

With the International Space Station under construction in the late 1990’s, Mir was abandoned. Using progress tugs, Russian controllers were able to re-enter the station over a remote area of the Pacific ocean.

Operated in orbit for over a decade, the Mir space station proved human outposts could be maintained for extended periods of time.

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Stunning Soyuz launch lofts Sentinel 1B.

Europe’s Sentinel 1B Earth observation satellite successfully launched yesterday, April 24, 2016. Liftoff occurred at 5:02pm EDT from the Guiana Space Center near Kourou, French Guiana, South America.

Soyuz experienced maximum aerodynamic pressure, or Max-Q, at 48 seconds into the flight, as seen in the fourth gif. Multiple vapor cones are forming around the nose of the vehicle, which are formed when there is a sudden drop in localized air pressure.

Two minutes and 8 seconds after liftoff, the rocket’s four strap-on boosters separated, forming what ground observers term a “Korolev Cross,” from the cross-shaped pattern visible as they fall away. One minute and 10 seconds later, the payload fairing separates, exposing the Sentinel 1B satellite to the environment of space.

At T+4 minutes and 50 seconds, the third stage ignites its engines and the second stage separates. Soyuz uses a ‘hot fire’ engine technique for the third stage, meaning the engines ignite while the second stage is still attached. In the final gif, this is the yellow-orange flash.

After the Sentinel 1B satellite was successfully placed into its proper orbit 23 minutes and 35 seconds after launch, the Fregat upper stage deployed four smaller satellites for France, Belgium, Denmark and Italy.

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A Soyuz-FG rocket bound for the International Space Station was rolled to the launch pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome earlier today following weather delays caused by high winds.

Carrying the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft, three crewmembers for Expedition 47 and 48 are set to launch at 5:26pm EDT Friday, March 18. Alexei Ovchinin, Oleg Skripochka and Jeff Williams will spend 171 days at the orbiting laboratory, slightly shorter than a normal expedition increment due to launch schedules.

Soyuz TMA-20M is the final flight of the TMA-M series of spacecraft, which will be replaced by the Soyuz MS series in June.

P/C: NASA, Roscosmos.

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The Soyuz TMA-19M rocket is launched with Expedition 46 Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Tim Kopra of NASA, and Flight Engineer Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency), Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Malenchenko, Kopra, and Peake will spend the next six-months living and working aboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

by NASA Johnson

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A family film of the launch in December.

KAZAKHSTAN, BAIKONUR : Russia’s Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft carrying the International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 46/47 crew of Britain’s astronaut Tim Peake, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and US astronaut Tim Kopra blasts off from the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome on December 15, 2015. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV