Olympic Torch relay at Baikonur spaceport
And again our company arranged a tour to Baikonur spaceport with the observation of Soyuz TMA-11M crew consisting of commander Mikhail Tyurin (Roscosmos) and flight engineers Rich Mastracchio (NASA) and Koichi Wakata (JAXA) launch. Our tourists from Japan got the unique opportunity not only to take part in the prelaunch events and see off their astronaut to the ISS but also to see the historical moment of launching Sochi 2014 Olympic torch in space!
Certainly it created a remarkable atmosphere at the spaceport – the rocket was covered with beautiful Olympic ornament and Sochi 2014 emblem, the torch was presented to the guests during all formal pre-launch events and our guests from Japan got pairs of torchbearer gloves each.
As usual our guests took part in main and most interesting pre-launch events: roll-out of the rocket, press-conference with main and back-up crews that gathered a lot of journalists and Space Agencies representatives this time, they saw off the cosmonauts from “Cosmonaut” hotel and listened to the formal crew’s report on the readiness to the flight. We also were lucky to visit crew’s room in 254 integration building where the spacesuits pass the leak check.
And as usual our guests were strongly impressed by a visit to the International Space School where you may sit in a spacecraft, study the thrusters of the rocket or rocket modeling. We saw and visited everything: City museums and sights, monuments and memorials, Buran space shuttle, Gagarin and Korolev memorial houses, Cosmonauts’ Alley! And perfect weather made our good time at Baikonur spaceport even better.
So, when the prelaunch program was completed and we bought all space souvenirs and got all the unforgettable impressions there was the most important part left for us – the launch of the rocket itself! At 08.14 Moscow time on November 7 Soyuz-FG booster with Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft was successfully launched from Baikonur spaceport. 9 minutes the spacecraft entered the orbit and 6 hours later we watched live transmission of Soyuz TMA-11M docking with the ISS. At the end of our wonderful space adventure we saw the hatch opening, when just arrived Mikhail Tyurin handed the torch over to Fyodor Yurchikhin and all 3 crews gathered inboard the ISS (a unique moment when cosmonauts are present onboard the ISS at the same time!) and there was direct communication session with them from Baikonur.
Our guests filled with emotions and impressions came back to Moscow but Olympic torch space relay went on! On November 9 Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazansky performed a spacewalk with the torch for the first time in the world history and on November 11 Fyodor Yurchikhin, Caren Nyberg and Luca Parmitano brought the torch back to the Earth. The relay was successfully completed and the crews have half a year work onboard the ISS in front of them, as well as the sportsmen have Olympic Games and our tourists – new space adventures!
See you on the space routes!