Follow ESA astronaut André Kuipers and his crewmates, NASA astronaut Donald Pettit and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononeko, on their journey from Baikonur cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, up to their launch onboard a Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) on 21 December 2011.
Includes the city of Baikonur, the avenue of cosmonauts with the tree once planted by Yuri Gagarin, the Gagarin Museum, the Soyuz roll-out, the vertical erection of the rocket on the launch pad, the pre-launch press conference, the ready-to-fly report of the crew commander, and of course - the amazing light show of a night launch.
Stereoscopic 3D glasses are required to properly enjoy the full effect of this footage.
Video replay: Progress spacecraft launched to ISS
A Russian Progress resupply spacecraft launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome today at 00:06 CET (25 January, 23:06 UT) . The Progress M-14M spacecraft, designated 46P, will deliver new supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) including food, fuel, water, spare parts and experiment hardware. The Progress is scheduled to dock with the ISS at around 01:07 CET (00:07 UT) on Saturday, 28 January.
And they are off. Now 8 mins and 40 seconds to reach space. During the ascent André has some important tasks sitting in the left seat. He will help the Soyuz Commander to monitor the Soyuz systems.
Launch of Soyuz TMA-03M
Soyuz launcher 101: Getting into space
Soyuz rockets are the longest-serving route to space. The design goes back to the Vostok launcher, which was used for the first manned spaceflight in 1961 to carry the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
A few Soyuz-FG Launcher characteristics
Diameter: 10.3 m
Height: 49.5 m
Total launch mass: 310 t
Launch performance payload: 7150 kg
Propellant mass: 157 t
The Soyuz launcher
The rocket consists of three stages that provide thrust at various points in the flight until the Soyuz capsule finally settles into orbit around the Earth. The first stage consists of four boosters, each about twenty metres in length. Together, they provide the main thrust in the first two minutes of the flight and are subsequently jettisoned. The second stage, or central core, takes care of the next 168 seconds.
In less than five minutes, the first two stages burn 225 000 kilograms of kerosene and liquid oxygen. When these have burned out, the third and last stage continues the upward trajectory.
Right at the top of the structure are the manned Soyuz capsule and the emergency rescue system.
When the last 22 tonnes of fuel have also been converted into forward thrust, the crew are eight minutes and forty seconds into their journey and are making a low-level orbit around the Earth. The Soyuz spacecraft separates and will continue to climb under its own power to an altitude of about four hundred kilometres, where it will dock with the International Space Station two days later.
Photo: Soyuz launcher this morning
Pad N°1 with Soyuz launcher ready on the morning of launch day
Watch the launch live with ESA
Soyuz launcher on the launch pad
Join us for the launch of ESA astronaut André Kuipers to the International Space Station on 21 December, together with NASA astronaut Don Petit and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko. The Soyuz TMA-03M launch is planned for 14:16 CET (13:16 GMT) from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Streaming starts at 13:30 CET (12:30 GMT).
Video: Soyuz rollout
A video from NASA showing the rollout of the Soyuz rocket to the launch pad in freezing conditions at Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, early this morning.
New photos of the Soyuz rollout and on the launch pad. Just in from Baikonur, taken by ESA photographer Stephane Corvaja.
Credit: ESA - S. Corvaja, 2011
Soyuz transferred to launch pad
Early this morning the Soyuz rocket that will carry André Kuipers, Don Pettit and Oleg Kononenko into space was rolled out to the launch pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. On a crisp cold morning at sunrise, the launcher was transported horizontally by train from the assembly hall to the launch pad. Shortly afterwards the Soyuz launcher was erected on the launch pad ready for Wednesday's launch. The launch of the Soyuz TMA-03M is scheduled for 14:16 CET (13:16 UT).
A couple of days ago the crew visited their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft and the Soyuz rocket for a second and final check before the launch. Suprisingly, it is just a few days before the launch and the rocket is still in several pieces, as shown in this series of photos posted on twitter by NASA astronaut Don Pettit:
The inspection gives the crew the chance to get close the rocket engines that will soon propel them into space at 28 000 km/h.
With the rocket engines that will propel their spacecraft into space
Later the same day, encapsulated inside the rocket fairing, the spacecraft was transported by train to the hall where the rocket will be assembled. Early on Monday morning the rocket will be taken by train to the launch platform where it will be erected into the upright position, ready for launch.