Russia readies Tito's ride
BY ANATOLY ZAK in Baikonur

Posted: April 25, 2001

Tito's ride
Tito's rocket is readied in the Soyuz booster integration building at Baikonur. Photo: Anatoly Zak/Spaceflight Now

Russian space officials gave a green light for the rollout of the booster rocket that will carry the Soyuz TM-32 spacecraft and space tourist Dennis Tito into orbit on Saturday.

The State Commission gathered at Baikonur's Area 254 at around 6 p.m. local time to review the readiness of the spacecraft and approved the carrier rocket's move to the launch pad.

Rollout of the rocket from the assembly building in Baikonur's Area 2 to the launch pad at Area 1 is expected to take place Thursday morning.

  Escape rocket
Workers attach the emergency escape rocket to the fairing of the Soyuz rocket that will carry Tito. Photo: Anatoly Zak/Spaceflight Now
Wednesday started in Baikonur with the traditional ceremony of the raising state flags of Russia, Kazakhstan and United States in front of the Baikonur hotel at Site 17.

Meanwhile, at launch site the processing crew attached the Soyuz TM-32 spacecraft with its launch vehicle. Despite some difficulties with the installation of the emergency escape rockets on the nose of the Soyuz, the craft and its upper stage were successfully integrated with the rest of the launch vehicle by 13:30 Baikonur Time on Wednesday (0700 GMT).

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The Soyuz taxi crew raises the American, Russian and Kazakh flags during a traditional preflight ceremony near the Cosmonauts Hotel in the city of Baikonur.
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