A Soyuz rocket carrying a Russian commander, a NASA co-pilot and a United Arab Emirates guest cosmonaut blasted off from Kazakhstan Wednesday, chased down the International Space Station and glided in for a picture-perfect docking, kicking off an unprecedented end-of-year schedule that includes up to a dozen spacewalks.
A Soyuz rocket with a three-person crew heading for the International Space Station lifted off at 1357 GMT (9:57 a.m. EDT) Wednesday in the final launch currently scheduled from Gagarin’s Start, a historic site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan from where Yuri Gagarin departed on the first human spaceflight in 1961. Beginning next year, Soyuz crews will blast off from a different pad at Baikonur.
Two weeks after a launch pad fire forced a delay, a Japanese H-2B rocket lifted off Tuesday with an HTV cargo freighter to deliver upgraded batteries, experiments and provisions to the International Space Station. Liftoff from the Tanegashima Space Center occurred at 1605 GMT (12:05 p.m. EDT) Tuesday.