Soyuz TMA-04M launch tour
May is a wonderful month for visiting Baikonur! This time our tourists saw off the crew of Soyuz TMA-04M composed of Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka, Sergey Revin and astronaut Joseph Acaba.
Traditionally during the first day we observed the rocket transportation and its installation to the launch site. Without any doubt it was one of the most interesting and spectacular stages of the program. The rocket was prepared for the launch of the first site of Baikonur cosmodrome, from the Gagarin’s start, where the first human had gone to space.
After the rocket installation and visiting the monument of the Space age beginning we headed to the orbiter processing building of Soyuz spaceships. Besides observation of the huge hall where “Soyuz” passes through the final tests, we always visit the crew room, where cosmonauts meet with their families and check the hermiticity of their spacesuits. It was fascinating to visit this place knowing that two days later cosmonauts would come out of here in the spacesuits to make an official report to the state commission about launch readiness. We would see it outside.
Also one of the most favorite events among guests is a press-conference of the prime and backup crews in “Cosmonaut” hotel, where they stay for 2 weeks before the launch. Cosmonauts of both crews were in wonderful mood, they eagerly answered all the questions of pressmen. For Sergey Revin it was the first flight, Joseph Acaba had already been to ISS and Gennady Padalka was the most experienced cosmonaut of the crew, it was his 4th space flight! The mood of the conference was remarkable!
We took a walk around the hotel area, walked along the cosmonauts’ alley, where every crew member planted a tree since the first founder of the tradition – Yuri Gagarin. Our guests learned even more traditions of cosmonauts. For example, every crew always watched the “White Sun” before the launch from the first one and till nowadays.
From 03:00 a.m. on the launch day we were not sleeping, because it was necessary to wish luck to cosmonauts, seeing them off from the hotel to the space launching site. It was a splendid, exciting and ceremonial moment, when the traditional main space song “Grass near the house” was played and all the guests greeted crews with a storm of applause.
Then everything went according to the strict plan: official report of the crew to the state commission, visiting of the museum of Baikonur, visiting of Korolev and Gagarin houses, orbital spaceship Buran.