0117 GMT (9:17 p.m. EDT)
European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen, 38, is now out of the Soyuz spacecraft. Mogensen is ending his first voyage into orbit, and he became the first Dane to go into space.
0112 GMT (9:12 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov has been extracted from the Soyuz spacecraft. The 43-year-old fighter pilot-turned cosmonaut is completing is first space mission, having logged nearly 10 days in orbit.
0108 GMT (9:08 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
Veteran Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, the Soyuz commander, is first to exit the Soyuz spacecraft. Padalka, 57, has now logged more than 878 days in space on five spaceflights.
He set the record for most cumulative time in space on this 168-day flight.
0105 GMT (9:05 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
Video from the landing site shows the Soyuz spacecraft landed on its side.
The recovery team arrived aboard a convoy of Russian helicopters that landed around the spacecraft to begin assisting the crew out of the capsule.
0051 GMT (8:51 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
TOUCHDOWN! The Soyuz TMA-16M capsule has landed in Kazakhstan after 168 days in space, bringing home veteran cosmonaut Gennady Padalka from his six-month tour on the International Space Station. He's joined by ESA's Andreas Mogensen and Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov, who spent nearly 10 days in space.
0045 GMT (8:45 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
"We are coming back to Earth, to our hospitable planet," says Soyuz commander Gennady Padalka.
0044 GMT (8:44 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
At an altitude of about 12 meters, cockpit displays will tell the cosmonauts to prepare for the soft landing engine firing. Just one meter above the surface, and just seconds before touchdown, the six solid propellant engines are fired in a final braking maneuver, enabling the Soyuz to land to complete its mission, settling down at a velocity of about 1.5 meters per second (3.35 mph).
0039 GMT (8:39 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
The recovery team has made audio contact with the Soyuz crew.
0038 GMT (8:38 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
Soyuz TMA-16M commander Gennady Padalka confirms deployment of the main parachute. There appear to be no issues with the descent.
At an altitude of five kilometers, the module's heat shield is jettisoned. This is followed by the termination of the aerodynamic spin cycle and the dumping of any residual propellant from the Soyuz. Computers also will arm the module's seat shock absorbers in preparation for landing.
With the jettisoning of the capsule's heat shield, the Soyuz altimeter is exposed to the surface of the Earth. Using a reflector system, signals are bounced to the ground from the Soyuz and reflected back, providing the capsule's computers updated information on altitude and rate of descent.
0038 GMT (8:38 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
Once the drogue chute is jettisoned, the main parachute is deployed. It is connected to the Descent Module by two harnesses, covers an area of about 1,000 square meters and slows descent to 7.2 meters/second.
Initially, the Descent Module will hang underneath the main parachute at a 30-degree angle with respect to the horizon for aerodynamic stability, but the bottommost harness will be severed a few minutes before landing, allowing the Descent Module to hang vertically through touchdown.
0037 GMT (8:37 p.m. EDT)
Onboard computers should be starting a commanded sequence for deployment of the capsule's parachutes at an altitude of about 10 kilometers. Two "pilot" parachutes are unfurled first, extracting a 24-square-meter drogue parachute. Within 16 seconds, the craft's fall will slow from 230 meters per second to about 80 m/s.
The parachute deployment creates a gentle spin for the Soyuz as it dangles underneath the drogue chute, assisting in the capsule's stability in the final minutes before touchdown.
0036 GMT (8:36 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
The crew experiences the period of maximum g-forces at this point during entry.
0031 GMT (8:31 p.m. EDT)
Twenty minutes to landing. The Soyuz is making its fiery plunge into the atmosphere after 168 days in orbit.
0029 GMT (8:29 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
Entry Interface. The Soyuz is now hitting the upper fringes of the atmosphere at an altitude of 400,000 feet, flying at an angle of 1.35 degrees. The crew will soon begin to feel the first tugs of Earth's gravity.
The entry guidance by the spacecraft's onboard software package is scheduled to start in a few minutes.
0027 GMT (8:27 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
Module separation has occurred, Mission Control reports.
The three segments of the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft have jettisoned apart, allowing the crew-carrying Descent Module to safely ferry the three crew members back to Earth. The no-longer-needed Orbital Module and Instrumentation/Propulsion Module are designed to burn up in the atmosphere.
0024 GMT (8:24 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
The Soyuz computers have been loaded with and enabled the commands to perform the pyrotechnic separation of the modules.
0021 GMT (8:21 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
Time to touchdown is now 30 minutes.
In about three minutes at an altitude of 87 miles, just above the first traces of the Earth's atmosphere, computers will command the separation of the three modules that comprise the Soyuz vehicle. With the crew strapped in to the Descent Module, the forward Orbital Module containing the docking mechanism and rendezvous antennas and the rear Instrumentation/Propulsion Module, which houses the engines and avionics, will pyrotechnically separate and burn up in the atmosphere.
The Descent Module's computers will orient the capsule with its ablative heat shield pointing forward to repel the buildup of heat as it plunges into the atmosphere. Entry interface at the upper fringes of the atmosphere, when the capsule is about 400,000 feet above the Earth, happens about three minutes after module separation.
0016 GMT (8:16 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
The Soyuz flight path is crossing Africa now as the spacecraft falls back toward the atmosphere. The crew members are expected to close their helmets at this time.
0010 GMT (8:10 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
The Soyuz is aiming for a landing site at 47.21 degrees north latitude and 69.34 east longitude. Landing occurs at 8:51:20 p.m. EDT (0051:20 GMT), two minutes before sunrise in Kazakhstan, where local time will be 6:51 a.m. at touchdown.
Ground controllers may lose voice communications with the Soyuz crew, but this is an expected phenomenon. Intermittent communications with the Soyuz is expected through the rest of the descent.
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0004 GMT (8:04 p.m. EDT on Fri.)
DEORBIT BURN COMPLETE! Flying over the South Atlantic Ocean, the Soyuz has performed its braking maneuver, committing the craft for entry into the atmosphere. Touchdown is about 47 minutes away.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2015
2359 GMT (7:59 p.m. EDT)
DEORBIT BURN IGNITION! Thrusters on the Russian Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft are firing to brake from orbit. This deorbit burn is expected to last four minutes and 42 seconds to put the capsule on a course for the trip back to Earth, slowing the vehicle by about 286 mph.
2351 GMT (7:51 p.m. EDT)
Now one hour to touchdown.
2330 GMT (7:30 p.m. EDT)
Everything is on track for the landing of the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft at 8:51 p.m. EDT (0051 GMT), with the start of the capsule's deorbit burn expected at 7:59:07 p.m. EDT (2359 GMT).
The deorbit burn is programmed to last four minute and 42 seconds to slow the spacecraft's velocity by 286 mph, enough for the Soyuz to drop in altitude and be captured by Earth's atmosphere for re-entry.
Just before it falls into the atmosphere, the Soyuz spacecraft's three modules will separate at 8:26 p.m. EDT (0026 GMT). The orbital habitation and service modules will burn up during re-entry, while the landing section containing Gennady Padalka, Andreas Mogensen and Aidyn Aimbetov is protected by a heat shield.
Altitude of the Soyuz spacecraft at module separation will be about 86 miles, or just shy of 140 kilometers.
The Soyuz spacecraft will reach the top of the discernable atmosphere at 8:28 p.m. EDT (0028 GMT). The crew members will experience maximum g-forces at 8:36 p.m. EDT (0036 GMT).
The Soyuz will issue the command to open parachutes at 8:37 p.m. EDT (0037 GMT), beginning a nearly 15-minute descent to the steppes of Kazakhstan southeast of the town of Zhezkazgan.
A set of so-called "soft landing rockets" will fire just above the ground to further cushion the impact of landing.
2135 GMT (5:35 p.m. EDT)
A separation firing by the Soyuz's thrusters has been completed to accelerate the spacecraft's departure from the International Space Station. The capsule will be nearly 8 miles away when it performs the deorbit burn today at 7:59 p.m. EDT (2359 GMT). Touchdown is scheduled for 5:51 p.m. EDT (0051 GMT).
The undocking occurred as the spacecraft flew 250 miles over Mongolia.
2129 GMT (5:29 p.m. EDT)
UNDOCKING. The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft has separated from the space station after 168 days there, setting the stage for today's return to Earth with Soyuz commander Gennady Padalka, Danish flight engineer Andreas Mogensen and Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov.
2128 GMT (5:28 p.m. EDT.)
The undocking command has been issued. Hooks and latches holding the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft and the station's Rassvet module tightly together are being opened now.
2110 GMT (5:10 p.m. EDT)
The homeward-bound crew has worked together for the past couple of hours to power up the Soyuz, activate the craft's systems, remove docking clamps, depressurize the vestibule between the capsule and station, and don their Sokol spacesuits. Undocking is set for 5:29 p.m. EDT (2129 GMT).
1830 GMT (2:30 p.m. EDT)
The crew has boarded the Soyuz spacecraft for this evening's journey from the International Space Station to the landing site in Kazakhstan. The crew closed the hatchway between the station and capsule at 1817 GMT (2:17 p.m. EDT).
Gennady Padalka, Andreas Mogensen and Aidyn Aimbetov will put on their Sokol launch and entry spacesuits over the next few hours before undocking of the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft at 2129 GMT (5:29 p.m. EDT). Landing is scheduled for 0051 GMT (8:51 p.m. EDT).
1601 GMT (12:01 p.m. EDT)
Wrapping up a whirlwind week on the International Space Station, a crew of three has boarded their Soyuz landing craft and will head for Earth overnight.
Veteran Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, the most experienced space crewman in history, will be at the controls, along with Danish and Kazakh crew members, aiming for landing in Kazakhstan at 8:51 p.m. EDT Friday (0051 GMT Saturday).
Padalka is concluding a 168-day mission, and will have logged more than 878 days in space at the time of landing. His time in orbit over five flights since 1998 will make Padalka the record-holder for cumulative space endurance.
Mogensen, a native of Denmark flying for the European Space Agency, will sit in the left couch of the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft, assisting Padalka as co-pilot. Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov will occupy the right seat.
The Expedition 45 crew formally takes over the space station with the undocking of outgoing commander Padalka, who handed over command of the complex to NASA astronaut Scott Kelly in a ceremony Saturday.
Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are about halfway through a nearly year-long flight on the space station. Scientists are using the opportunity to gain data on how the human body responds to long-duration spaceflight, collecting information that NASA says will be applied to future voyages to Mars.
Mogensen and Aimbetov launched Sept. 2 with Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, who will remain on the outpost until March, when he will fly home with Kelly and Kornienko.
The Soyuz TMA-16M spaceship coming to Earth on Friday night is near the end of its approximately 210-day design life, prompting the launch of a replacement with Volkov and company. The Soyuz capsules serve as emergency escape pods for the station residents.
The departing crew will float into the Soyuz TMA-16M space capsule later Friday and close hatches between the spacecraft and the space station's Rassvet module at 1800 GMT (2 p.m. EDT).
The crew will put on their Soyuz launch and entry spacesuits and buckle into their custom-molded consoles.
Undocking is set for 2129 GMT (5:29 p.m. EDT), followed by a burn of the Soyuz rocket thrusters at 2359 GMT (7:59 p.m. EDT) to slow the craft's velocity enough to fall back into the atmosphere.
The spacecraft's propulsion and orbital habitation modules will jettison from the landing section, where the three-man crew will be positioned for the computer-controlled re-entry, at 0026 GMT (8:26 p.m. EDT).
The parachute-assisted touchdown on the steppe Kazakhstan is scheduled for 0051 GMT (8:51 p.m. EDT), or 6:51 a.m. Saturday at the landing site.
The departure brings the size of the space station crew back to six after nine people lived aboard the complex for the last week.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2015
0745 GMT (3:45 a.m. EDT)
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.
0743 GMT (3:43 a.m. EDT)
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 6:15 a.m. EDT (1015 GMT).
0741 GMT (3:41 a.m. EDT)
Docking occurred over 250 miles over the border between Russia and Kazakhstan.
0739 GMT (3:39 a.m. EDT)
DOCKING! The Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft has docked to the Poisk module of the space station, delivering Russian commander Sergey Volkov, ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen and Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov to the complex after a two-day, 34-orbit rendezvous following liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Volkov is beginning a six-month expedition on the space station and will return to Earth in March. Mogensen and Aimbetov come home on Sept. 11.
0739 GMT (3:39 a.m. EDT)
Standing by for contact and capture momentarily.
0734 GMT (3:34 a.m. EDT)
The Soyuz spacecraft is closing in on the Poisk docking port at 0.2 meters per second, or about one-half mile per hour.
0733 GMT (3:33 a.m. EDT)
Range is now about 60 meters, or 200 feet.
0728 GMT (3:28 a.m. EDT)
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.
0717 GMT (3:17 a.m. EDT)
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 350 meters.
0313 GMT (3:13 a.m. EDT)
Soyuz is now 866 meters from the space station, and the closing rate is 2.8 meters per second.
0703 GMT (3:03 a.m. EDT)
Current range to docking is 5.7 km.
0700 GMT (3:00 a.m. EDT)
All is in readiness for arrival of the Soyuz spacecraft in 42 minutes. The space station is reported to be in the proper attitude for docking.
0642 GMT (2:42 a.m. EDT)
No major problems have been reported during the Soyuz rendezvous sequence. The Soyuz TMA-18M 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 0742 GMT (3:42 a.m. EDT).
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2015
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft streaked into orbit Wednesday carrying a crew of three on a two-day flight to the International Space Station. Their mission: to deliver a fresh ferry craft to the lab complex that will be needed next March to carry two station crew members back to Earth after nearly a year in orbit.
Read our full story.
0505 GMT (1:05 a.m. EDT)
Russian Soyuz commander Sergey Volkov, ESA flight engineer Andreas Mogensen and Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov have arrived in orbit following a good launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Both solar arrays have unfurled aboard the spacecraft to generate electricity, and the first major orbit-adjustment maneuver is planned for 4:12 a.m. EDT (0812 GMT) to begin raising the capsule's altitude to match that of the space station.
A second "delta velocity" burn is set for 4:52 a.m. EDT (0852 GMT), followed by several more firings over the next couple of days 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 1:15 a.m. EDT (0515 GMT) Friday.
The Soyuz should be in position to start a flyaround maneuver at range of about 400 meters, or 1,300 feet, at about 3:13 a.m. EDT (0713 GMT) to line up with the docking port on the space station's space-facing Poisk module. Soyuz commander Sergey 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 3:42 a.m. EDT (0742 GMT).
The docking should occur 2 days, 3 hours and 5 minutes after liftoff.
0448 GMT (12:48 a.m. EDT)
NASA says the Soyuz spacecraft is completing a programmed sequence to deploy the power-generating solar arrays, as well as antennas for navigational and communication systems.
0446:43 GMT (12:46:43 a.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 3:42 a.m. EDT (0742 GMT) Friday.
0445:43 GMT (12:45:43 a.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.
0444:43 GMT (12:44:43 a.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.
0443:43 GMT (12:43:43 a.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 two-day trek to catch the International Space Station.
0442:43 GMT (12:42:43 a.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.
0441:43 GMT (12:41:43 a.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.
0440:43 GMT (12:40:43 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 3 minutes. The safety escape tower and launch shroud have been jettisoned from the atop the Soyuz capsule.
0439:53 GMT (12:39:53 a.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.
0438:43 GMT (12:38:43 pa.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.
ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen is strapped into the left-hand seat serving as co-pilot, veteran cosmonaut Sergey Volkov is in the center seat for his role as the Soyuz commander and Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov is riding in the right-hand seat.
0438:13 GMT (12:38:13 a.m. EDT)
T+plus 30 seconds. Volkov is beginning a six-month expedition on the International Space Station. Mogensen and Aimbetov will be in space for 10 days.
The Soyuz rocket has maneuvered on course for a rendezvous with the space station six hours from now. The station currently is flying 250 miles over southern Russia.
0437:43 GMT (12:37:43 a.m. EDT)
LIFTOFF! Liftoff of the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft with Sergey Volkov, Andreas Mogensen and Aidyn Aimbetov on a two-day pursuit of the International Space Station.
0437:03 GMT (12:37:03 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 40 seconds. The first umbilical arm has separated from Soyuz. The second will retract in the next few seconds.
0436:43 GMT (12:36:43 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 1 minute and counting. The Soyuz has been placed on internal power.
0435:43 GMT (12:35:43 a.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.
0433 GMT (12:33 a.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.
0432 GMT (12:32 a.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.
0431 GMT (12:31 a.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 12:37:43 a.m. EDT (0427:43 GMT), the moment Earth's rotation carries the Baikonur Cosmodrome under the International Space Station's ground track.
0428 GMT (12:28 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 9 minutes and counting. The crew has closed its helmet visors.
0427 GMT (12:27 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 10 minutes. The crew inside the Soyuz capsule are starting recorders to collect data during launch.
0423 GMT (12:23 a.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.
0420 GMT (12:20 a.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.
0417 GMT (12:17 a.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.
0415 GMT (12:15 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 22 minutes and counting. At the time of launch, the International Space Station will be flying about 250 miles over Kazakhstan. When the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft deploys from the Soyuz rocket's third stage, the space station will be flying about 1,437 miles ahead of the Soyuz.
The space station will fly almost directly overhead the Baikonur Cosmodrome less than a minute before launch.
The capsule will close that distance over the next two days, with docking to the space station's Poisk module scheduled for 3:42 a.m. EDT (0742 GMT).
0413 GMT (12:13 a.m. EDT)
T-minus 24 minutes. The crew is completing leak checks of the Sokol launch spacesuits at this point in the countdown.
0412 GMT (12:12 a.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 two-day chase of the International Space Station.
Docking is set for 3:42 a.m. EDT (0742 GMT) Friday.
0403 GMT (12:03 a.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.
0357 GMT (11:57 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 just after sunrise Monday.
Several other umbilical arms connecting the rocket to the ground will be retracted at various times later in the countdown.
0347 GMT (11:47 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 50 minutes and counting. Soyuz TMA-18M commander Sergey Volkov, Danish flight engineer Andreas Mogensen and Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov 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.
0330 GMT (11:30 p.m. EDT)
T-minus 67 minutes. Live streaming video coverage of today's rocket flight to orbit begins now.
0307 GMT (11:07 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 crew from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 12:37:43 a.m. EDT (0437:43 GMT).
The final hatch to the Soyuz TMA-18M 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 on this page at approximately 11:30 p.m. EDT.
0250 GMT (10:50 p.m. EDT)
All three crew members are reported to be in their couches and the hatches are being closed for flight.
0220 GMT (10:20 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-18M spacecraft for liftoff at 0437:43 GMT (12:37:43 a.m. EDT).
The crew is led by Sergey Volkov, a 42-year-old Russian Air Force pilot selected as a cosmonaut candidate in 1997. Volkov is the son of a former Russian cosmonaut and has logged 365 days in space on two previous missions aboard the International Space Station in 2008 and 2011.
Volkov will occupy the capsule's center seat, with European Space Agency flight engineer Andreas Mogensen and Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov flanking him in the left and right couches.
Mogensen will be the primary flight engineer, assisting Volkov with control duties during the launch and docking, which is set for 0742 GMT (3:42 a.m. EDT) Friday.
Making his first spaceflight, the 38-year-old Mogensen is the first person of Danish nationality to go into space. He is a native of Copenhagen and graduate of Imperial College London and the University of Texas at Austin, and worked in the energy and space sectors before his selection as a European Space Agency astronaut in 2009.
Kazakh fighter pilot-turned-cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov, 42, is also making his first flight into space. He started training as a cosmonaut in 2003 and completed his tour at Star City in 2009 after the Russian and Kazakh authorities could not agree on scheduling a seat on a Soyuz mission.
Aimbetov was added to the crew with Volkov and Mogensen after British soprano Sarah Brightman bowed out of her flight opportunity in May, leaving an open seat aboard Soyuz TMA-18M.
MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2015
A Russian Soyuz booster rolled out of a hangar at the historic Baikonur Cosmodrome and rode a rail car to its launch pad Monday, setting up for Wednesday’s launch with a three-man crew hailing from Russia, Denmark and Kazakhstan.
Read our full story.