Horizons mission – Soyuz: launch to orbit

This unique video shows a full launch of the Soyuz MS-09: from liftoff to orbit.

Watch the launch from inside the crew capsule with first-ever shots from outside the spacecraft recorded by cameras fixed to the exterior of the Soyuz.

The intense launch lasts less than ten minutes whereby the Soyuz spacecraft is propelled 1640 km and gains 210 km altitude. Every second for nine minutes, the spacecraft accelerates 50 km/h on average as the rocket’s boosters burn their fuel and are discarded.
See the astronaut’s reactions and what the spacecraft looks like as the main steps are carried out to get into orbit:

-00:12 Launch command issued
-00:10 Engine turbopumps at flight speed
-00:05 Engines at maximum thrust
00:00 Launch
+1:54 Separation of emergency rescue system
+1:57 First stage separation
+2:38 Fairing separation
+4:48 Second stage separation
+4:58 Tail adapter separation
+8:45 Third stage engine cut off having arrived in orbit
+8:49 Soyuz separation, deploy solar arrays and antennae

The astronauts, from left to right, are NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Roscosmos commander Sergei Prokopyev and ESA astronaut and flight engineer Alexander Gerst launched in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station on 6 June 2018. ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer and ESA television host Richard Hollingham provide commentary taken from the live event.

Hunched in their Sokol flight suits that offer protection in case of fire or depressurisation, the trio stay in the crew capsule of the Soyuz – the only module that is also designed to survive a return to Earth. The bags above their heads contain supplies for the International Space Station as every bit of space is used.

During a Soyuz launch astronauts typically experience forces of up to 4g – having to work while being pressed into their seats with a force that is four times more than the gravity felt on Earth. The Soyuz commander uses a stick to press buttons as they are too far away from the control panel.

The fluffy toys above the astronauts’ heads are mascots and good luck charms but also serve as a simple but effective test to see when the spacecraft is in orbit: when they start to float the spacecraft is weightless and orbiting Earth. Above Sergei is the mascot for the 2018 FIFA soccer World Cup held in Russia. Alexander took German children television icon “Die Maus” with him.

The launch went as planned as the 50-m tall Soyuz rocket propelled the astronauts to their cruising speed of around 28 800 km/h.
For this launch the astronauts took 34 orbits of Earth over two days to arrive at their destination spending their time in the cramped orbital module of the Soyuz that is no larger than a car. With limited communications and living space the astronauts had time to adapt to weightlessness and reflect on their mission ahead. They aligned their spacecraft with the International Space Station and approached the orbital outpost for docking on 8 June 2018. The files for this video were downloaded by the astronauts after arriving at the Space Station.

Alexander is a returning visitor to the International Space Station, the first of ESA’s 2009 class of astronauts to be sent into space for a second time. During the second part of his mission Alexander will take over as commander of the International Space Station, only the second time an ESA astronaut will take on this role so far.

Credits: ESA / NASA / Roscosmos

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Horizons mission – docking and hatch opening highlights

After orbiting Earth 34 times to catch up to the International Space Station, the car-sized spacecraft carrying ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos commander Sergei Prokopyev, arrived at the Station two days after launch.

The German astronaut is a returning visitor to the International Space Station, the first of ESA’s 2009 class of astronauts to be sent into space for a second time. During the second part of his mission Alexander will take over as commander of the International Space Station, only the second time an ESA astronaut will take on this role so far.

The mission is called Horizons as a symbol for the unknown and what lies beyond – reflecting on ESA’s strategy to extend human and robotic exploration beyond Earth orbit. While in space, Alexander will work on over 50 European experiments, including testing ways of operating and working with robots to develop techniques required for further human and robotic exploration of our Solar System.

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Horizons mission – preparations to liftoff

Going to space is not an easy thing.

Here are the highlights of the preparations and liftoff for the Horizons mission with ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst.

At 11:12 GMT (13:12 CEST) on 6 June 2018, Alexander was launched into space alongside NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos commander Sergei Prokopyev in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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Horizons mission – liftoff replay

At 11:12 GMT (13:12 CEST), 6 June 2018, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst was launched into space alongside NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos commander Sergei Prokopyev in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter completes aerobraking

Since arriving at Mars in October 2016, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has been aerobraking its way into a close orbit of the Red Planet by using the top of the atmosphere to create drag and slow down. It is almost in the right orbit to begin observations – only a few hundred kilometres to go! With aerobraking complete, additional manoeuvres will bring the craft into a near-circular two-hour orbit, about 400 km above the plane, by the end of April. The mission’s main goal is to take a detailed inventory of the atmosphere, sniffing out gases like methane, which may be an indicator of active geological or biological activity. The camera will help to identify surface features that may be related to gas emissions. The spacecraft will also look for water-ice hidden below the surface, which could influence the choice of landing sites for future exploration. It will also relay large volumes of science data from NASA’s rovers on the surface back to Earth and from the ESA–Roscosmos ExoMars rover, which is planned for launch in 2020.

Visit our website to learn more about ExoMars: https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/ExoMars

Luca’s winter-survival greetings for Columbus 10 years

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano sends his greetings for the 10th anniversary of Europe’s space laboratory Columbus during his winter survival course.

Luca is gearing up for his second mission to the International Space Station in 2019 on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. All astronauts who fly on a Soyuz do a winter survival course in the forests near Star City, Russia.

When a Soyuz spacecraft lands on Earth support teams are usually at hand within minutes to help the astronauts out of the capsule, but there is always the possibility that the spacecraft module lands in a remote, cold area. As part of standard flight safety astronauts learn to survive in harsh climates while waiting for rescue.

For Luca the course is more of a refresher training than learning new skills, he already survived the training in October 2012 as part of his first mission, called Volare, in 2013.

The training course included getting out of the Soyuz unaided, changing from spacesuits into more winter-friendly garments, signalling for help as pictured here, building a shelter out of the spacecraft parachute and wood, building a fire and providing first aid.

The Columbus laboratory ascended to orbit aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA on 7 February 2008. Nestling in the spaceplane’s cargo bay was Columbus.

On 11 February, the crew on the International Space Station captured the new arrival. At that moment, Columbus became Europe’s first permanent human outpost in orbit and Europe became a full partner of the International Space Station.

Columbus houses as many disciplines as possible in a small volume, from astrobiology to solar science through metallurgy and psychology – more than 225 experiments have been carried out during this remarkable decade. Countless papers have been published drawing conclusions from experiments performed in Columbus.

Follow Luca and his adventures in space and on Earth via http://lucaparmitano.esa.int

More about Columbus here: http://www.esa.int/Columbus

Credits: GCTC/roscosmos/ESA