Russian engineers raise the Soyuz 28 launcher and crew transport capsule at the Baikonur Cosmodrome after transport by rail from the integration facility. Image Credit/RSC Energia
Russia's Soyuz 28 mission spacecraft was rolled by rail car to the launching pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday in preparation for the first launching of the venerable crew transport to the International Space Station since the late August loss of the 44 Progress mission. NASA astronaut Dan Burbank and cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin are scheduled to lift off for the orbiting science laboratory from Baikonur on Sunday at 11:14 p.m., EST, starting a two-day transit to the orbital outpost.
American Dan Burbank, left, and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin await launching this week at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Photo Credit/NASA TV
The first members of the Expedition 30 station crew were originally scheduled for a late September launching. The departure was delayed while Russian experts investigated the Aug. 24 Progress launch failure.The cargo version of the Soyuz launcher plummeted back to Earth just over five minutes into flight because of a fuel line blockage, a Russian state commission concluded.The new U.S. and Russian crew is scheduled to dock with the Russian segment of the orbital outpost on Wednesday at 12:45 a.m., EDT. The newcomers will be greeted by station commander Mike Fossum, of NASA, Russia's Sergey Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa of Japan.The return to six person station crew operations will be brief.
Fossum, Volkov and Furukawa are scheduled to descend to Earth late Nov. 22, ending Expedition 29. The NASA-led space station partnership expects to resume long-term six-crew operations for the first time since the Progress loss with the launch of a U.S., Russian and European crew in late December.