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Forum:Soviet - Russian Space
Topic:Soyuz TMA-21 mission to the space station
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Robert Pearlman
Soyuz TMA-21, "Gagarin," launches to orbit

Space station crew launches from birthplace of human spaceflight

Lifting off from the same launch pad where just shy of 50 years ago the first human in space departed Earth for orbit, Russia's Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft took flight at 5:18 p.m. CDT Monday (4:18 a.m. Tuesday, local time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Onboard, commander Alexander Samokutyaev and flight engineers Ron Garan and Andrey Borisenko began their trip to the International Space Station, where in two days time they will join the Expedition 27 crew.


Credit: NASA Television

"Launch was great, and we are in orbit and we are doing great," said Samokutyaev after the launch.

"This is a great anniversary flight, and have a great one," Mission Control in Moscow radioed back.

The Soyuz, which has been dubbed "Gagarin," is launching one week shy of the 50th anniversary of the launch of Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961 to become the first human to fly in space.

The first stage of the Soyuz booster was emblazoned with the name "Gagarin" and the likeness of the first person to fly in space.

The crew is scheduled to dock Soyuz TMA-21 to the station's Poisk module at 6:18 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6. The crew members will join ISS Expedition 27 commander Dmitry Kondratyev and engineers Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli, who have been on the orbiting lab since December 2010.


Credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi

Above: Expedition 27 crew members from top, Roscosmos flight engineer Andrey Borisenko, NASA flight engineer Ron Garan, and Soyuz commander Alexander Samokutyaev wave farewell from the bottom of the Soyuz rocket prior to their launch on Tuesday, April 5, 2011.

During Expedition 27, the six-person crew will continue scientific research, perform station maintenance and welcome two visiting vehicles. In addition to space shuttle Endeavour's planned visit during the STS-134 mission, the Expedition 27 crew is expecting the arrival of the 42nd Russian Progress cargo ship near the end of April.

Kondratyev, Coleman and Nespoli are scheduled to depart the station May 16.

NASA astronaut Mike Fossum, Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergei Volkov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Satoshi Furukawa are scheduled to join Garan, Borisenko and Samokutyaev aboard the station to complete the Expedition 28 crew. Their launch is currently set for May 30, but may slip into June.

Robert Pearlman


Credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi

Robert Pearlman
Soyuz TMA-21 docks at the space station

The International Space Station welcomed three new crew members when they docked their spacecraft, Soyuz TMA-21, at 6:09 p.m. CDT on Wednesday (April 6).

Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev, Ron Garan and Andrey Borisenko began their journey when they launched Monday at 5:18 p.m. from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

At the time of docking the orbital complex was flying over the Andes Mountains in Chile.

The new trio joins Expedition 27 commander Dmitry Kondratyev and flight engineers Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli who have been living aboard the orbital laboratory since Dec. 17.

The Soyuz TMA-21 is now docked to the Poisk module. The new crewmates will be welcomed aboard for a crew greeting ceremony and a mandatory safety orientation.

Garan, Samokutyaev and Borisenko are scheduled to live and work in space until September. They will become Expedition 28 crew members when Kondratyev, Coleman and Nespoli undock from the Rassvet module in May in their Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft. Borisenko will become station commander.

Robert PearlmanNASA Television video release
New Crew Members Welcomed to ISS

Highlights of the docking, hatch opening and welcoming ceremony of the final Expedition 27 crew members to board the International Space Station on Apr. 6.
Robert Pearlman
Soyuz TMA-21 set to return to Earth

On Sept. 15, Expedition 28 crew members Alexander Samokutyaev, Ron Garan and Andrey Borisenko will undock from the International Space Station's Poisk module to return to Earth aboard the Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft.

They are set to land on the southern region steppe of Kazakhstan near the town of Dzhezkazgan at 11:01 p.m. CDT on Sept. 15 (10:01 a.m. local time, Sept. 16). Their return was delayed a week due to the Aug. 24 loss of the unmanned Progress M-12M cargo craft.

Expedition 29 station commander Mike Fossum, together with flight engineers Sergei Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa will remain aboard the complex until their planned return to Earth in mid-November.

NASA Television schedule:

    Thursday, Sept. 15

  • 4 p.m. - Soyuz TMA-21 crew farewells and hatch closure (hatch closure scheduled at 4:35 p.m.)
  • 7:15 p.m. - Undocking coverage (undocking scheduled at 7:37 p.m.)
  • 9:30 p.m. - Deorbit burn and landing coverage (Deorbit burn scheduled at 10:06 p.m., landing in Kazakhstan scheduled at 11:01 p.m.)

    Friday, Sept. 16

  • 2 a.m. - Video File of the landing and post-landing activities (repeated at 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.)
  • 11 a.m. - Video File of the landing and post-landing activities that includes post-landing interview with Garan and the cosmonauts' return to Chkalovsky Airfield near Star City, Russia
Robert Pearlman
Hatches closed, Soyuz TMA-21 ready to head home

The hatches between Soyuz TMA-21 and the International Space Station (ISS) were closed at 4:30 p.m. CDT Thursday, wrapping up 162 days aboard the orbiting laboratory for Expedition 28 commander Andrey Borisenko and flight engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Ron Garan.

The trio is scheduled to undock from the station at 7:38 p.m.

After performing a deorbit burn, the Soyuz will be on track for an 11 p.m. landing in Kazakhstan, wrapping up 164 days in space for the three crew members.

Robert Pearlman
Soyuz TMA-21 undocks from the space station

After 162 days attached to the International Space Station, the Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft is flying free again and beginning its journey back to Earth.

The spacecraft undocked from the station's Russian Poisk module at 7:38 p.m. CDT on Thursday (Sept. 15) as the vehicles flew about 245 miles over northern China.

Soyuz TMA-21 — with its crew Alexander Samokutyaev, Ron Garan and Andrey Borisenko — will make two more revolutions around the Earth before performing a deorbit burn at 10:05 p.m., setting up an 11 p.m. (10 a.m. Friday local time) landing in Kazakhstan.

Robert Pearlman
Soyuz TMA-21 makes silent but safe return to Earth

Soyuz TMA-21 touched down safely on the southern region steppe of Kazakhstan, landing at 10:59:39 p.m. CDT on Thursday (9:59:39 a.m. local time Friday) after 164 days in space.

The spacecraft followed the nominal landing profile, although Russian flight controllers in Mission Control were unable to raise the crew on radio for most of the descent. An aircraft dispatched to assist with the recovery operations was able to reestablish two-way communications once the Soyuz was back in the atmosphere.

There was no immediate explanation offered for the unexpected radio blackout.


Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev, both of the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos, and NASA's Ron Garan landed aboard Soyuz TMA-21. The trio, which first arrived at the International Space Station on April 6, had been scheduled to land on Sept. 8, but was postponed by the Aug. 24 loss of the Progress M-12M resupply ship.

Before leaving the station, Borisenko, who led Expedition 28, handed over command to NASA's Mike Fossum, who leads Expedition 29. He and flight engineers Satoshi Furukawa of Japan and Sergei Volkov of Russia will continue conducting research and maintenance on board the station through November.


Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

During their 162 days spent aboard the station, Borisenko, Garan and Samokutyaev celebrated the 50th anniversaries of the first manned and American spaceflights (by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and astronaut Alan Shepard respectively) and participated in the final mission of the 30-year space shuttle program.

Their mission over, the three crewmates will be flown to Karaganda for the traditional Kazakh welcome home ceremony. Borisenko and Samokutyaev will then go to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, outside of Moscow, while Garan will be flown to Johnson Space Center in Houston to begin their rehabilitation.


Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Lewis007In Star City, the crew return ceremony for the Soyuz TMA-21 (ISS-27) crew took place on October 7.

After the traditional activities (which included laying flowers at the statue of Yuri Gagarin and posing fow photos with their family members and officials of TsPK), they answered questions of journalists. One wished to know the most memorable event of the spaceflight. "Our friendship" Sanokutyayev replied.

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