0142 GMT (9:42 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
The docking probe on the front of Soyuz has retracted, allowing the hooks and latches to close and form a seal between the capsule and station. Pressure and leak checks will be performed over the next orbit before the hatchway is opened for the crew to enter into the station in a couple of hours.
0137 GMT (9:37 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
Over the next few minutes, the Soyuz docking probe will retract to allow hooks and latches to bring the spacecraft to a firm seal with the station. Hatches between the two vehicles will be opened around 11:15 p.m. EDT (0315 GMT).
0135 GMT (9:35 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
Docking occurred over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Colombia.
0133 GMT (9:33 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
DOCKING! The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft has docked to the Poisk module of the space station, delivering Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka, Mikhail Kornienko and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly to the complex after a fast-track six-hour rendezvous following liftoff earlier today.
Kelly and Kornienko are starting a nearly yearlong expedition on the space station, the longest duration mission in the history of the ISS.
0132 GMT (9:32 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
Standing by for contact and capture momentarily.
0130 GMT (9:30 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
Range is now about 30 meters, or 98 feet.
0129 GMT (9:29 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
The Soyuz spacecraft is closing in on the Poisk docking port at 0.2 meters per second, or about one-half mile per hour.
0127 GMT (9:27 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
Range is now 75 meters, or 246 feet.
0124 GMT (9:24 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
The Soyuz completed the flyaround to align with the docking port. It's now on a computer-controlled final approach to the space station's Poisk module.
0111 GMT (9:11 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
The flyaround has begun. Soyuz is flying itself around the international outpost to get into the approach corridor leading to the Poisk module's docking port. This flyaround occurs at a range of about 250 meters.
0058 GMT (8:58 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
A camera mounted on the Soyuz spacecraft is now returning images of the space station, which is reported to be in the proper attitude for docking in 34 minutes.
0036 GMT (8:36 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
No major problems have been reported during the Soyuz rendezvous sequence. The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft should have established a communications link with the International Space Station by now, the capsule's Kurs navigation radar should be activated, and the automated rendezvous is underway.
Docking with the space station's space-facing Poisk module is set for one hour from now at 0136 GMT (9:36 p.m. EDT).
FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2014
2005 GMT (4:05 p.m. EDT)
Russian Soyuz commander Gennady Padalka, flight engineer Mikhail Kornienko and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly have arrived in orbit following a good launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Solar arrays have been unfurled aboard the spacecraft to generate electricity, and the first major orbit-adjustment maneuver is planned for 4:25 p.m. EDT (2025 GMT) to begin raising the capsule's altitude to match that of the space station.
A second "delta velocity" burn is set for 5:09 p.m. EDT (2109 GMT), followed by several more firings over the next few hours to set up for rendezvous and docking.
The 7.9-ton capsule's automated rendezvous sequence, guided by its Kurs radar system, will commence at 7:27 p.m. EDT (2327 GMT).
The Soyuz should be in position to start a flyaround maneuver at range of about 400 meters, or 1,300 feet, at about 9:11 p.m. EDT (0111 GMT) to line up with the docking port on the space station's space-facing Poisk module. Soyuz commander Gennady Padalka will be standing by to take over manual flying of the spacecraft if required. Final approach will begin about 11 minutes before docking, which is scheduled for 9:36 p.m. EDT (0136 GMT).
The docking should occur 5 hours and 53 minutes after liftoff.
1955 GMT (3:55 p.m. EDT)
NASA says the Soyuz spacecraft has completed a programmed sequence to deploy the power-generating solar arrays, as well as antennas for navigational and communication systems.
1951:57 GMT (3:57 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 9 minutes. CAPSULE SEPARATION! The Soyuz spacecraft is flying free after the upper stage finished its engine firing and then separated away. The capsule is in pursuit of the International Space Station for a planned docking at 9:36 p.m. EDT (0136 GMT).
1950:57 GMT (3:50:57 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 8 minutes. About a minute remains in the propulsion by the upper stage. The motor consumes kerosene and liquid oxygen just like the Soyuz rocket's other powerplants.
1949:57 GMT (3:49:57 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 7 minutes. The four-nozzle RD-0110 engine of the upper stage continues to burn to put the spacecraft into orbit.
1948:57 GMT (3:48:57 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 6 minutes. Soyuz's upper stage is firing to propel the spacecraft into a stable orbital perch around Earth on the six-hour, four-orbit trek to catch the International Space Station.
1947:57 GMT (3:47:57 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 5 minutes. The core stage of the Soyuz rocket has shut down and separated at an altitude of approximately 105 miles, leaving the upper stage to complete the job of injecting the Soyuz capsule into orbit.
1946:57 GMT (3:46:57 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 4 minutes. The core RD-108A engine continues to fire on its propellant mixture of kerosene fuel and supercold liquid oxygen.
1945:57 GMT (3:45:57 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 3 minutes. The safety escape tower and launch shroud have been jettisoned from the atop the Soyuz capsule.
1945:07 GMT (3:45:07 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 2 minutes, 10 seconds. The four strap-on boosters clustered around the Soyuz rocket's main stage have burned out and separated. The core engine continues to fire as Soyuz streaks into space at more than 3,300 mph.
1943:57 GMT (3:43: 57 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 60 seconds. Good performance one minute into this ascent for the Soyuz rocket and its three-person crew from the Kazakh launch base.
Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko is strapped into the left-hand seat serving as co-pilot, veteran commander Gennady Padalka is in the center seat for his role as the Soyuz commander and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is riding in the right-hand seat.
1943:27 GMT (3:43:27 p.m. EDT)
T+plus 30 seconds. Padalka is kicking off nearly six months in space, and Kornienko and Kelly are beginning a nearly yearlong expedition.
The Soyuz rocket has maneuvered on course for a rendezvous with the space station six hours from now. The station currently is flying 260 miles over southern Russia.
1942:57 GMT (3:42:57 p.m. EDT)
LIFTOFF! Liftoff of the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft with Gennady Padalka, Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly on a record-setting mission to the International Space Station.
1942:17 GMT (3:42:17 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 40 seconds. The first umbilical arm has separated from Soyuz. The second will retract in the next few seconds.
1941:57 GMT (3:41:57 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 1 minute and counting. The Soyuz has been placed on internal power.
1941 GMT (3:41 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 2 minutes and counting. Rocket propellant tank pressurization is underway. The vehicle's onboard measurement system is activated. Oxidizer and fuel drain and safety valves of the launch vehicle have been closed.
1939 GMT (3:39 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 4 minutes and counting. The nitrogen purge of the combustion chambers of side and central engine pods of the rocket is being performed in preparation for ignition.
1938 GMT (3:38 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 5 minutes and counting. Soyuz has switched to onboard control, the ground measurement system and the capsule commander's controls are being activated.
1937 GMT (3:37 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 6 minutes. The automatic program for final launch operations is being initiated. And the launch key has been inserted in the bunker for liftoff.
Launch is set for 3:42:57 p.m. EDT (1942:57 GMT), the moment Earth's rotation carries the Baikonur Cosmodrome under the International Space Station's ground track.
1934 GMT (3:34 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 9 minutes and counting. The crew has closed its helmet visors.
1933 GMT (3:33 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 10 minutes. The crew inside the Soyuz capsule are starting recorders to collect data during launch.
1929 GMT (3:29 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 14 minutes. The Soyuz telemetry systems are being activated. They will relay real-time data back to Earth during today's launch.
1926 GMT (3:26 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 17 minutes. Now in the launch count, realignment of the Soyuz rocket's trajectory control system and checks of internal batteries should be complete. The Soyuz telemetry system will soon be activated and monitoring of Soyuz's thermal control system also will begin.
1923 GMT (3:23 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 20 minutes and counting. The three-stage Soyuz rocket will insert the 15,700-pound space capsule into a 143 by 118 mile orbit, inclined 51.6 degrees to the equator, according to NASA.
1921 GMT (3:21 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 22 minutes and counting. At the time of launch, the International Space Station will be flying 260 miles over northeast Kazakhstan. When the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft deploys from the Soyuz rocket's third stage, the space station will be flying about 2,015 miles ahead of the Soyuz.
The space station will fly almost directly overhead the Baikonur Cosmodrome about three minutes before launch.
The capsule will close that distance over the next six hours, with docking to the space station's Rassvet module scheduled for 9:36 p.m. EDT (0136 GMT).
1919 GMT (3:19 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 24 minutes. The crew is completing leak checks of the Sokol launch spacesuits at this point in the countdown.
1918 GMT (3:18 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 25 minutes and counting. The Soyuz rocket will fly northeast from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, jettisoning its launch escape tower 1 minutes, 54 seconds, after liftoff. Four seconds later, the rocket's four liquid-fueled strap-on boosters will separate as the core RD-108A engine, also known as the Block A second stage, continues firing.
The Soyuz launch shroud will release at T+plus 2 minutes, 37 seconds, followed by ignition of the third stage RD-0110 engine and separation of the Soyuz second stage at T+plus 4 minutes, 45 seconds.
The third stage's RD-0110 engine will fire for four minutes to inject the Soyuz spacecraft into orbit. Shutdown is set for T+plus 8 minutes, 45 seconds, followed by separation of the capsule in orbit three seconds later.
A series of communications and navigation antennas will deploy moments later as the Soyuz begins its six-hour chase of the International Space Station.
Docking is set for 9:36 p.m. EDT (0136 GMT).
1909 GMT (3:09 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 34 minutes and counting. The emergency escape system is being armed. The system would be employed if a major malfunction occurs, propelling the Soyuz capsule off the top of the rocket to safety.
1903 GMT (3:03 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 40 minutes and counting. The two-piece service structure which enclosed the Soyuz rocket is being retracted to a horizontal position. The towers protected the rocket and provided workers and the Soyuz crew with access to the spacecraft since the rocket arrived at the launch pad at sunrise Sunday.
Several other umbilical arms connecting the rocket to the ground will be retracted at various times later in the countdown.
1853 GMT (2:53 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 50 minutes and counting. Soyuz TMA-16M commander Gennady Padalka, Russian flight engineer Mikhail Kornienko and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly were awakened about eight hours ago to begin launch day activities.
They signed the doors at the Cosmonaut Hotel and received religious blessings before boarding a bus that took the three crewmates the 25-mile distance into the cosmodrome. They donned their white Sokol launch and entry suits, met with officials from their respective space agencies and then headed for the pad. Crowds of well-wishers gathered to wave goodbye as the crew reached the rocket. An elevator took the trio up to the capsule-level of the tower to begin climbing aboard the cramped spacecraft.
1830 GMT (2:30 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 73 minutes. Live streaming video coverage of today's rocket flight to orbit begins now.
1813 GMT (2:13 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 90 minutes. The Soyuz rocket is fueled, the crew has traveled to the launch pad and the countdown is progressing toward liftoff of the space station's Expedition 43/44 crew from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 7:43 p.m. EDT (1943 GMT).
The hatch to the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is due to be closed in about 10 minutes, followed by the start of leak checks to ensure the capsule has a tight pressure seal.
Live launch coverage and commentary begins in the stream at 2:30 p.m. EDT.
1715 GMT (1:15 p.m. EDT)
The three-person crew has arrived at Launch Pad No. 1 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, where they will take an elevator ride to the top of the Soyuz rocket to board the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft for liftoff at 1942:57 GMT (3:42:57 p.m. EDT).
The crew is led by Gennady Padalka, a 56-year-old Russian Air Force pilot selected as a cosmonaut candidate in 1989. Padalka has logged 710 days in space on four previous missions aboard Russia's Mir space station and the International Space Station.
Padalka will occupy the capsule's center seat, with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly flanking him in the left and right couches.
Kornienko will be the primary flight engineer, assisting Padalka with control duties during the launch and docking, which is set for 0136 GMT (9:36 p.m. EDT), less than six hours after liftoff.
Making his second spaceflight, the 54-year-old Kornienko served as a law enforcement officer in Moscow while studying for his engineering degree from the Moscow Aviation Institute. He worked at the Baikonur Cosmodrome when the Soviet Union's Buran space shuttle launched, and later helped train space crews before his selection as a cosmonaut in 1998.
Kornienko spent 176 days in space on the Expedition 23 and Expedition 24 crews in 2010.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, 51, is making his fourth flight into space after serving as pilot aboard space shuttle Discovery on the STS-103 mission in 1999 and as commander of the shuttle Endeavour on the STS-118 mission in 2007. Kelly later lived on the International Space Station, commanding the Expedition 26 crew in 2011.
Kelly has logged 180 days in orbit on his previous three missions.
0401 GMT (12:01 a.m. EDT)
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.
Read our full story.
THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2015
Shuttle veteran Scott Kelly first heard about NASA’s plans to send an astronaut to the International Space Station for nearly a full year shortly after he completed his third space flight in 2011, a 159-day stay aboard the orbital lab complex.
Read our full story.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25, 2015
A Soyuz rocket is sitting on a historic launch pad in Kazakhstan after a railroad journey at sunrise Wednesday positioned the crew ferry craft for liftoff Friday with a three-man crew destined for the International Space Station, including two spaceflight veterans who will spend nearly one year in orbit.
Read our full story.
MONDAY, MARCH 23, 2015
Russian launch crews on two continents are putting the final touches on a pair of Soyuz rockets scheduled to blast off less than two hours apart Friday — one carrying a three-man crew to the space station, and another boosting two European navigation satellites into orbit from the Amazon jungle.
Read our full story.