FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2012
Welcome aboard! The newest residents have floated into the International Space Station from their Soyuz capsule for the formal ceremony. Also participating via a live communications linkup are the VIPs gathered on the balcony in Russia's mission control center outside Moscow.
The hatchway between the Soyuz spacecraft and the station was opened at 11:37 a.m. EST.
The outpost's Expedition 34 crew is comprised of three Russians and two Americans and a Canadian astronaut. The outpost is back to the full 6-person-strong operating team.
1417 GMT (9:17 a.m. EST)
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.
1410 GMT (9:10 a.m. EST)
The docking occurred about three minutes early as the space station flew above northern Kazakhstan at an altitude of 255 miles.
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 11:45 a.m. EDT.
1409 GMT (9:09 a.m. EST)
DOCKING! The Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft has docked to the Rassvet module of the space station, delivering Chris Hadfield from the Canadian Space Agency, NASA's Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko to the international outpost for their 146-day mission.
The new Expedition 34 residents join commander Kevin Ford of NASA and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeni Tarelkin.
1408 GMT (9:08 a.m. EST)
The capsule remains on course and lined up for docking. A steady, stable approach using Soyuz's automated rendezvous system continues.
1407 GMT (9:07 a.m. EST)
Now inside 50 feet and closing.
1406 GMT (9:06 a.m. EST)
Range down to 72 feet, closing at 0.25 miles per hour. Soyuz is in good alignment.
1405 GMT (9:05 a.m. EST)
Just 100 feet to go. No reports of any issues this morning.
1404 GMT (9:04 a.m. EST)
The docking mechanism has been powered up.
1403 GMT (9:03 a.m. EST)
The range between Soyuz and station is about 154 feet, closing 0.49 mph.
1402 GMT (9:02 a.m. EST)
Inside 250 feet and closing.
1358 GMT (8:58 a.m. EST)
A few minutes ahead of schedule, the Russian flight control team has given approval for the final approach to commence.
1357 GMT (8:57 a.m. EST)
The Soyuz completed the flyaround to align with the docking port. It's now in the stationkeeping hold about while controllers verify all is in readiness for final approach.
1356 GMT (8:56 a.m. EST)
The capsule is completing a roll maneuver as part of the sequence to orient itself and solar wings for docking.
1355 GMT (8:55 a.m. EST)
Now 850 feet as the flyaround continues.
1353 GMT (8:53 a.m. EST)
Just 1,100 feet separate the two craft now.
1352 GMT (8:52 a.m. EST)
The 57-degree flyaround has begun. Soyuz is flying itself around the international outpost to get into the approach corridor leading to the Rassvet module's docking port.
1350 GMT (8:50 a.m. EST)
The Soyuz is less than 1,700 feet from the station
1347 GMT (8:47 a.m. EST)
Having completed breaking maneuvers a short time ago, the range is just 3,280 feet now.
1344 GMT (8:44 a.m. EST)
External cameras on the International Space Station have spotted the approaching Soyuz.
1338 GMT (8:38 a.m. EST)
Now just 1.6 miles between the two spacecraft.
1331 GMT (8:31 a.m. EST)
The Soyuz is 4.3 miles from the station.
1315 GMT (8:15 a.m. EST)
The Soyuz spacecraft with Chris Hadfield from the Canadian Space Agency, NASA's Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko is nearing the space station for docking an hour from now at 9:12 a.m. EDT. You can watch live NASA Television coverage right here on this page.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2012
The Soyuz spacecraft carrying three new residents for the International Space Station continues on its course to intercept the orbiting complex for docking Friday morning.
Soyuz TMA-07M was launched Wednesday at 7:12 a.m. EST, the precise moment when the Earth's rotation brought the Baikonur pad into alignment with the International Space Station's orbital plane, riding its three-stage booster into a preliminary orbit of 158 by 124 miles, tilted 51.6 degrees to the equator.
The automated rendezvous sequence aboard the Russian-built crew transport capsule begins at 6:51 a.m. EST to control the activities via autopilot.
The day's first key engine firing is planned for 7:13 a.m. and another impulse is expected around 7:35 a.m. EST, followed within minutes by activation of the Kurs rendezvous equipment on both the Soyuz and space station to guide the linkup. Another burn comes up at 7:59 a.m.
The two spacecraft should be within 60 miles of each other by 7:55 a.m., closing to less than 10 miles by 8:23 a.m.
The television camera on the nose of Soyuz will be turned on at 8:31 a.m. to provide views of the docking.
A series of maneuvers between 8:40 and 8:48 a.m. will dramatically slow the Soyuz's closure rate, ultimately leading to the spacecraft beginning a flyaround of the space station at 8:51 a.m. to align with the Rassvet module's docking port.
After a stationkeeping hold by the Soyuz to ensure all is in readiness for docking, the spacecraft will commence final approach at 9:02 a.m. for docking about 10 minutes later. Soyuz commander Roman Romanenko will be standing by to take over manual flying of the spacecraft if required.
The linkup should occur at 9:12 a.m. EST, just before the end of an orbital daylight pass.
The hatch opening and welcoming ceremony aboard the station is expected around 11:45 a.m. EDT.
Watch this page for live updates and streaming video starting at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT).
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2012
Braving arctic temperatures and a brutal wind chill, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft roared to life and streaked smoothly into orbit Wednesday, carrying a veteran three-man crew on a two-day flight to the International Space Station.
Read our launch story.
1234 GMT (7:34 a.m. EST)
The exact liftoff time today was 7:12:35.340 a.m. EST
1231 GMT (7:31 a.m. EST)
Following a flawless climb to orbit with no issues or problems reported, the crew has been given clearance to open helmet visors and loosen their seat belts.
1224 GMT (7:24 a.m. EST)
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, NASA's Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko have arrived in orbit following a sunset launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Activities upcoming over the next few hours include opening the hatchway into the capsule's living compartment where the crew can remove their spacesuits, pressurization of the Soyuz propellant tanks and two orbit adjustment maneuvers. The trio of crewmates should begin their sleep period in the mid-afternoon U.S. time.
That pair of maneuvers today will be followed by another one Thursday to put Soyuz on the proper trajectory for Friday's rendezvous and docking with the space station.
1222 GMT (7:22 a.m. EST)
The craft is completing a programmed sequence to deploy the power-generating solar arrays, as well as antennas for navigational and communication systems.
1221 GMT (7:21 a.m. EST)
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 around 9:12 a.m. EST on Friday.
1220 GMT (7:20 a.m. EST)
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.
1219 GMT (7:19 a.m. EST)
T+plus 7 minutes. The four-nozzle engine of the upper stage continues to burn to inject the spacecraft into orbit.
1219 GMT (7:19 a.m. EST)
T+plus 6 minutes, 45 seconds. Everything is normal aboard the spacecraft, the crew reports as the Soyuz rockets toward space.
1218 GMT (7:18 a.m. EST)
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.
1217 GMT (7:17 a.m. EST)
T+plus 5 minutes, 15 seconds. The crew reports everything is in order aboard the spacecraft for launch.
1217 GMT (7:17 a.m. EST)
T+plus 5 minutes. The core stage of the Soyuz rocket has shut down and separated, leaving the upper stage to complete the job of injecting the Soyuz capsule into orbit.
1216 GMT (7:16 a.m. EST)
T+plus 4 minutes. The core motor continues to fire on its propellant mixture of kerosene fuel and supercold liquid oxygen.
1215 GMT (7:15 a.m. EST)
T+plus 3 minutes. The safety escape tower and launch shroud have been jettisoned from the atop the Soyuz capsule.
1214 GMT (7:14 a.m. EST)
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 motor continues to fire.
1213 GMT (7:13 a.m. EST)
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. Flight engineer Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency is strapped into the left-hand seat serving as co-pilot, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko is in the center seat for his role as the Soyuz commander and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn is riding in the right-hand seat.
1212 GMT (7:12 a.m. EST)
T+plus 20 seconds. The Soyuz rocket has maneuvered on course for a rendezvous with the space station 50 hours from now. The station currently is flying 254 miles above the South Atlantic.
1212:36 GMT (7:12:36 a.m. EST)
LIFTOFF! Liftoff of the three-man crew from Canada, Russia and the United States for a five-month mission aboard the International Space Station!
1212 GMT (7:12 a.m. EST)
T-minus 30 seconds. The first umbilical arm has separated from Soyuz. The second will retract in the next few seconds.
1211 GMT (7:11 a.m. EST)
T-minus 1 minute and counting. The Soyuz has been placed on internal power.
1210 GMT (7:10 a.m. EST)
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.
1209 GMT (7:09 a.m. EST)
T-minus 3 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.
1208 GMT (7:08 a.m. EST)
T-minus 4 minutes. The launch key has been inserted in the bunker for liftoff.
1207 GMT (7:07 a.m. EST)
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.
1206 GMT (7:06 a.m. EST)
T-minus 6 minutes. The automatic program for final launch operations is being initiated.
1204 GMT (7:04 a.m. EST)
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1203 GMT (7:03 a.m. EST)
T-minus 9 minutes and counting. The crew has closed its helmet visors.
1202 GMT (7:02 a.m. EST)
T-minus 10 minutes. The crew inside the Soyuz capsule are starting recorders to collect data during launch.
1158 GMT (6:58 a.m. EST)
T-minus 14 minutes and counting. The Soyuz telemetry systems are being activated. They will relay real-time data back to Earth during today's launch.
1155 GMT (6:55 a.m. EST)
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.
1153 GMT (6:53 a.m. EST)
T-minus 19 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. At liftoff, the station will be flying 254 miles above the South Atlantic.
1148 GMT (6:48 a.m. EST)
T-minus 24 minutes. The crew is completing leak checks of the Sokol launch spacesuits at this point in the countdown.
1142 GMT (6:42 a.m. EST)
T-minus 30 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.
1126 GMT (6:26 a.m. EST)
T-minus 46 minutes and counting. Retraction of the two-piece service structure that has enclosed the Soyuz rocket during its stay at the launch pad is underway as the towers rotate to a horizontal position. Several other umbilical arms connecting the rocket to the ground will be retracted at various times later in the countdown.
1112 GMT (6:12 a.m. EST)
T-minus 60 minutes and counting. Chris Hadfield, Tom Marshburn and Roman Romanenko were awakened about eight hours ago to begin launch day activities. They signed the doors at crew quarters 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.
1100 GMT (6:00 a.m. EST)
T-minus 72 minutes. Live streaming video coverage of today's rocket flight to orbit begins now.
1042 GMT (5:42 a.m. EST)
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 34 crew from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 7:12 a.m. EST.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2012
Looking forward to Christmas in orbit, a second-generation Russian cosmonaut, a Canadian shuttle veteran and a NASA physician-astronaut made final preparations for blastoff Wednesday aboard a Soyuz spacecraft bound for the International Space Station. Liftoff is scheduled for 7:12 a.m. EST (1212 GMT).
Read our full story.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2012
Traversing in sub-zero temperatures, a Russian booster rocket with the next Soyuz capsule headed for the International Space Station was rolled to its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome early Monday.
"Up early, can hear the wind blowing. It's 30 below as they roll the rocket on its carrier train to the launch pad. Stay warm, launch guests!" Expedition 34 astronaut Chris Hadfield tweeted.
Moving horizontally by railcar, the rocket took the winding route from the final assembly building to the same historic pad used at the dawn of human spaceflight in 1961 to send Yuri Gagarin off the Earth.
Hydraulic pistons lifted the rocket upright on the pad and gantry swing arms moved into position to enclose the vehicle. Technicians on four levels hooked up electrical and telemetry cables between the rocket and pad.
Liftoff is planned for Wednesday at 7:12 a.m. EST (1212 GMT). The three-stage, liquid-fueled booster will insert the capsule into a preliminary orbit within nine minutes. But it will take two days for the Soyuz spacecraft to the reach station, docking on Friday around 9:12 a.m. EST (1412 GMT).
Soyuz TMA-07M is carrying Hadfield from the Canadian Space Agency, NASA's Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko to join the station's Expedition 34 crew as flight engineers, and Hadfield will become the first Canadian commander of a spacecraft when Expedition 35 starts in March.
Marshburn will be the 25th NASA astronaut to launch aboard the Russian Soyuz dating back to Norm Thagard in 1995. Two of those astronauts have gone up twice, making this NASA's 27th "seat" reserved in the capsule flights to both the Mir and the International Space Station. In addition, six Americans have paid to fly on the spacecraft as tourists to the ISS.
NASA crew members have routinely used the Soyuz to access the International Space Station since 2003 in the wake of Columbia, when full Expedition rotations were shifted away from the space shuttle and over to the Russian spacecraft.
And even when Expedition crews used the American space shuttles for launches and landings earlier in the program, the Soyuz vehicles still served as their emergency lifeboats to escape the station.
Since arriving at Baikonur on Dec. 6, Hadfield, Marshburn and Romanenko have conducted final training sessions, fulfilled Russian spaceflight traditions, performed inspections of their spacecraft and participated in a full dress rehearsal that included donning Sokol spacesuits and climbing into the capsule.
"It's the most exciting thing in the world," said Marshburn after sitting in his spacecraft.
"Feels like home, feels very familiar," Hadfield said after one of the capsule fit-checks. "Suddenly, it's real. There's like this little smile bouncing around inside of me that's ready to burst out. It's almost time."
The crew also toured the integration facility where the Soyuz booster rocket awaited arrival and installation of the capsule for rollout.
"I've been a pilot for my whole life -- a fighter pilot and a test pilot -- and been an astronaut for 20 years, and there's nothing like standing next to your aerospace vehicle. Standing next to this rocketship, looking truly at how it works, looking at the business end of a Soyuz rocket. It's a feeling like no other. We're gonna launch soon!" said Hadfield.
Watch this page for live updates during this week's launch and docking.
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