Russian launch crews stood up a Soyuz rocket Sunday on its launch mount in Kazakhstan for a scheduled liftoff Wednesday with approximately 5,500 pounds of supplies, experiments, fuel and several small satellites to be released by spacewalking cosmonauts at the International Space Station later this year.
A Russian Proton rocket launched at 0345 GMT Thursday (11:45 p.m. EDT Wednesday) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with the EchoStar 21 communications satellite, a hefty 7.6-ton telecommunications station designed to support a mobile network in Europe. Managed by U.S.-based International Launch Services, the mission will take more than nine hours to deliver EchoStar 21 into a geostationary transfer orbit using five burns of the Breeze M upper stage engine.
Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, on his fifth trip into space, and rookie NASA astronaut Jack Fischer, a Colorado native, blasted off aboard a Soyuz booster at 0713 GMT (3:13 a.m. EDT) Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, heading for the International Space Station for a four-and-a-half month expedition. The duo docked with the orbiting outpost at 1318 GMT (9:18 a.m. EDT).