Soyuz TMA-03M launch
In the end of the Year of Cosmonautics from 18th to 22nd of December we visited again cosmodrome Baikonur during pre-launch procedures and launch of spaceship Soyuz TMA-03M. This time we organized this tour for our VIP guests – chiefs of “Yamalgazprom”.
The main crew with the commander Oleg Kononenko and flight engineers ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers and NASA astronaut Donald Pettit and back-up crew with Yuri Malenchenko, Sunita Williams and Akihiko Hoshide spent already two weeks in Baikonur preparing for the launch. We came with cosmonauts’ and astronauts’ families 3 days before the launch to take part in the main and the most important and spectacular events that take place in Baikonur in this period.втов и астронавтов за 3 дня до старта, чтобы поучаствовать в самых важных, ответственных и зрелищных мероприятиях, происходящих на Байконуре в этот период.
One of the main pre-launch events is the roll-out of the rocket from the integration building and its mounting to the launch pad. Our guests were pleasantly surprised to have the opportunity to watch this important process very close to the rocket. It is a really fascinating view, especially early in the morning, and even strong December frost wasn’t the obstacle to observe all the stages of rocket installation. After that our guests visited the integration building where the final assembling of the rocket takes place, and then the crew’s room where cosmonauts two days later checked their spacesuits and prepared to the official report to the state commission.
International press-conference of main and back-up crew was the important event of the second day. This is always a very interesting and exciting moment because up to this time knowing a lot about the rocket, the spaceship and the training we see for the first time the main heroes – cosmonauts and astronauts, and there’s a chance to communicate with them. They answer with pleasure to the questions of journalists about the flight program, united crew and emotions before the launch.
And on the main day the schedule is strict. 6 hours before the launch cosmonauts accompanied with the applause and camera flashes, like Hollywood stars, leave the hotel “Cosmonaut” and move to the cosmodrome. 3 hours before the launch the guests observe the official report of the crew to the state commission, being very close to cosmonauts, chief constructor and the head of commission. Cosmonauts already in spacesuits report about their readiness to the flight and after that follow to buses to go to the rocket. And we have our own program before the launch – visit to museum of cosmodrome and celebratory dinner with the specialists of aerospace field, representatives of NASA, ESA, Roscosmos, and also with cosmonauts’ and astronauts’ families..
And finally we are in the observation point – the nearest safe place to the rocket, where all the headquarters, press and guests observe the launch. After the sunset, we see the rocket in the twilight that is lightened by the projectors. Strong frost, clear weather — that means that visibility is excellent. We hear the conversations with the crew, transmitted through loud-speaking communication and we understand that right now these heroic people will go on the powerful rocket with enormous speed to space! And the sky was lighted, the earth vibrated and Soyuz TMA-03M with cosmonauts onboard started to the orbit as it was planned at 17.16 Moscow time. Our guests said after the launch “This is really amazing, it can’t be described in words, you should see it with your own eyes!”
We wish cosmonauts to successfully carry out their program on International Space Station, and to our present and future guests – good luck and space achievements in New Year!