December 10, 2019

One-year space expedition starts with 18-hour workday


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NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko will blast off Friday. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko will blast off Friday. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Two veteran spacemen embarking on a marathon yearlong mission in orbit must first sprint through a busy workday Friday — suiting up for liftoff, climbing into their Soyuz spaceship, then flying to the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, a former U.S. Navy test pilot, and police officer-turned-cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend just shy of one year in space after their planned launch at exactly 1942:57 GMT (3:42:57 p.m. EDT) Friday.

They will be joined inside the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft by commander Gennady Padalka, an experienced space flier who is scheduled to leave his crewmates behind and come back to Earth in September after six months on the space station.

Launch is a major part of any space mission, and the trio set for blastoff Friday have a long day that starts with wakeup at the Cosmonaut Hotel at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Their workday will end about 18 hours later after docking with the space station, entering the orbiting laboratory, and receiving a safety briefing from the three-person crew already living on the outpost.

File photo of a Soyuz spacecraft at the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
File photo of a Soyuz spacecraft at the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

The schedule for Friday — as provided by NASA — is listed below.

• 1043 GMT (6:43 a.m. EDT) — Crew wakes up in Cosmonaut Hotel

• 1143 GMT (7:43 a.m. EDT) — Crew departs Cosmonaut Hotel

• 1158 GMT (7:58 a.m. EDT) — Batteries installed in Soyuz booster

• 1228 GMT (8:28 a.m. EDT) — Crew arrives at Site 254 for medical checks and suit-up

• 1243 GMT (8:43 a.m. EDT) — Tanking of Soyuz rocket begins

• 1513 GMT (11:13 a.m. EDT) — Crew dons Sokol launch and entry suits

• 1538 GMT (11:38 a.m. EDT) — Booster loaded with liquid oxygen

• 1613 GMT (12:13 p.m. EDT) — Crew greets family through glass wall

• 1638 GMT (12:38 p.m. EDT) — First and second stages full of LOX

• 1643 GMT (12:43 p.m. EDT) — Crew walks out at Site 254

• 1648 GMT (12:48 p.m. EDT) — Crew departs for Site 1 launch pad

• 1708 GMT (1:08 p.m. EDT) — Crew arrives at Site 1 launch pad

• 1718 GMT (1:18 p.m. EDT) — Crew begins boarding Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft

• 1808 GMT (2:08 p.m. EDT) — Soyuz TMA-16M descent module hardware tested

• 1823 GMT (2:23 p.m. EDT) — Hatch closed to Soyuz TMA-16M capsule; leak checks begin

• 1843 GMT (2:43 p.m. EDT) — Launch vehicle control system prep; gyro activation

• 1858 GMT (2:58 p.m. EDT) — Launch pad service structure lowered

• 1906 GMT (3:06 p.m. EDT) — Sokol spacesuit leak checks; descent module testing complete

• 1909 GMT (3:09 p.m. EDT) — Soyuz launch abort system armed

• 1928 GMT (3:28 p.m. EDT) — Sokol spacesuit leak checks complete; abort system to auto

• 1933 GMT (3:33 p.m. EDT) — Gyros ready for flight; flight recorders activated

• 1936 GMT (3:36 p.m. EDT) — Pre-launch operations complete

• 1937 GMT (3:37 p.m. EDT) — Launch countdown operations to auto; vehicle ready

• 1938 GMT (3:38 p.m. EDT) — Flight controls activated; helmet visors closed; launch key inserted

• 1939 GMT (3:39 p.m. EDT) — Engine combustion chambers purged with nitrogen

• 1940 GMT (3:40 p.m. EDT) — Propellant drainback

• 1940:12 GMT (3:40:12 p.m. EDT) — Booster propellant tanks pressurized

• 1941:27 GMT (3:41:27 p.m. EDT) — Ground propellant feed terminated

• 1941:57 GMT (3:41:57 p.m. EDT) — Vehicle to internal power

• 1942:22 GMT (3:42:22 p.m. EDT) — First umbilical tower retracted

• 1942:42 GMT (3:42:42 p.m. EDT) — Second umbilical tower retracted

• 1942:45 GMT (3:42:45 p.m. EDT) — Launch command issued

• 1942:47 GMT (3:42:47 p.m. EDT) — Engine turbopumps at flight speed

• 1942:52 GMT (3:42:52 p.m. EDT) — Engines at maximum thrust

• 1942:57 GMT (3:42:57 p.m. EDT) — Liftoff

• 1951:42 GMT (3:51:42 p.m. EDT) — Soyuz TMA-16M orbital insertion; antennas deployed

• 2327 GMT (7:27 p.m. EDT) — Automated rendezvous sequence begins

• 0111:28 GMT (9:11:28 p.m. EDT) — Flyaround of ISS begins to align with Poise docking port

• 0121:16 GMT (9:21:16 p.m. EDT) — Station-keeping begins

• 0125 GMT (9:25 p.m. EDT) — Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft begins final approach

• 0136:06 GMT (9:36:06 p.m. EDT) — Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft docks with Poise module

• 0149 GMT (9:49 p.m. EDT) — Hooks closed to create firm seal between ISS and Soyuz

• 0315 GMT (11:15 p.m. EDT) — Hatches opened; crew greetings; VIP calls; safety briefing

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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