Baikonur spaceport – Soyuz TMA-19M lauch tour
On December 15 we saw off to space Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft crew comprising Roscosmos cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra and ESA astronaut Timothy Peake.
But first things first. Our program started with the observation of Soyuz roll-out and installation on the launchpad. Generally manned spacecraft launches are not so often scheduled for December but this time Soyuz TMA-19M launch was scheduled for this month because of flight program adjustment. When we arrived at site early in the morning it was still dark but fortunately when the rocket went by the sun was already rising in the East and our guests could enjoy this spectacular view.
This day we also visited local market where our guests could buy any kind of souvenirs and International space school.
For the next day we also had a very busy schedule planned: in the morning we walked along Cosmonauts Alley and took part in the international press conference of prime and back-up crews and in the afternoon visited Baikonur history museum that impressed our guests much and had a city sightseeing tour.
Finally the great day has come. Six hours before the launch the cosmonauts greeted by relatives friends and specialists who gathered to see them off left Cosmonaut hotel to the strains of traditional space song “Green grass near the house”.
After cosmonauts’ ready-to-go report at pad 254 we had about two hours to spend in museum of pad 2, visit Buran orbital spacecraft and Gagarin and Korolev memorial houses before everyone has gathered at the viewing site waiting. We heard a command; the trusses separated and magnificent white rocket lifted off to the astonishing sunset skies. In 528 seconds the spacecraft successfully enters the orbit and everyone starts congratulating each other. It 6 hours Soyuz will dock with the station, where Mikhail Korniyenko, Scott Kelly and Sergey Volkov are already waiting for the new crew to arrive. And we have to return home. But there is always a chance to come back!
Have a look at our photos to see that taking part in such an adventure once you will always remember that.