An unpiloted Russian Soyuz spacecraft, with a humanoid robot in the commander’s seat instead of a cosmonaut, is scheduled for liftoff late Wednesday (U.S. time) from Kazakhstan on a test flight to verify the spaceship’s compatibility with the new-generation Soyuz-2.1a rocket set to begin launching crews to the International Space Station next year.
Packed with nearly 3 tons of rocket fuel, water, oxygen and crew provisions, the Russian Progress MS-12 supply ship and its Soyuz booster arrived at a launch pad Sunday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, moving a step closer to liftoff Wednesday on a fast-track three-hour flight to the International Space Station.
A Russian Progress resupply and refueling freighter launched Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on top of a Soyuz booster. The cargo craft completed the fastest rendezvous in the history of the International Space Station program with a successful docking less than three-and-a-half hours later.
Russian ground crews working in starkly different environments on the barren steppes of Kazakhstan and in the lush jungles of South America are readying a pair of Soyuz rockets for two launches Thursday, one to resupply the International Space Station, and another to broaden the capacity of SES’s O3b Internet network.
A Russian Soyuz rocket lifted off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East on Thursday carrying 28 satellites, including a pair of Russian mapping satellites, secondary payloads from Germany, Japan, Spain, South Africa, and a dozen Earth-observing CubeSats and eight commercial weather payloads for Planet and Spire.
Russia’s Progress MS-09 cargo craft made a 3-hour, 40-minute trip from a launch pad in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station on Monday, setting a record for the quickest journey to the orbiting research laboratory. Look back on the mission’s predawn launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and radar-guided docking at the space station with these images and videos.