Baikonur tour — Soyuz TMA-16M launch
March 2015. We have arrived at Baikonur to see off Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft crew comprising Roscosmos cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Korniyenko and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly off to space. We have 5 long days of space adventures ahead.
This year spring in Baikonur was extremely cold, nevertheless it could not prevented our multinational group from taking part in such epoch-making event as space launch and our guests from Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland in Russia proved that neither frost nor cold cannot stop them on the way to dream. Besides as if having challenged us the weather soon improved.
Along with crews gusts, NASA and Roscosmos specialists we watched the roll-out and the installation of the rocket. It was indeed a magnificent scene! Two meters far from you as a triumph of human genius comes the rocket that in a couple of days will lift off carrying onboard three Earth citizens to space – the bravest of the brave and the best of the best.
After the roll-out we visited integration building of #254 launchpad and International Space School where got a chance to launch our own small rockets. A dinner in traditional Kazakh yurt became a nice end of the day.
Next day after Museum of history Of Baikonur spaceport and a tour around the city we took part in the press-conference of the crews. It is well-known that this mission is a very special one: Mikhail Korniyenko and Scott Kelly are going to spend one year inboard the ISS and Gennady Padalka will set up a new work-in-space duration record and naturally most questions concerned this topic. After the press conference the crews following long-standing cosmonats’ tradition went to watch a movie “White Sun of the Desert” and we – to have rest and prepare for the most important day of our tour.
Since the launch of the rocket was scheduled for -1.42, local time, all events started in the second part of the day thus we had time to walk around the city, buy souvenirs and presents.
At the hour stated the crews left “Cosmonaut” hotel to the song “Trava u doma” (Green grass near the house) by a Russian band “Zemlyane”. It was a moment of unbelievable emotional lift when your heart is filled with delight and endless respect to these heroic people. After that – official report to the State Commission on the readiness for the flight and three hours left to the launch during which we managed to visit Baikonur spaceport museum and then were in time at the observation point. Countdown. And the skies froze waiting. Smoke, fire, the ground trembling and the rocket takes off. This very moment the cosmonauts become so near and dear to you and these 518 seconds from the launch to insertion into the orbit seem endless.
The hours to sleep and we watch the successful docking. Now the final step – pressure equalization and hatch opening – one of the heart-stirring moments when the crew waiting onboard the station greets their just arrived colleagues. Communication session. Everything is nominal. Now the cosmonauts will work for the benefit of our planet and we have to say goodbye to Baikonur. It is really difficult to leave! But anyway there is a chance to returne. In 3 months there will be another Soyuz to be launch, another crew, another emotions. Join us! Let yourself experience this unbelievable space adventure! And meanwhile have a look at our photo gallery.