Launch Spotlight: Roscosmos launches all Russian crew to ISS amidst Russia-Ukraine war

Roscosmos launched the Soyuz MS-21 mission to the ISS this Friday at 15:55 UTC. Following spacecraft separation, the Soyuz Capsule docked with the ISS’s Prichal module around three hours later to begin a six-month mission.

Launch overview

Launch Date: March 18, 15:55 UTC

Payload: Soyuz MS spacecraft carrying three Cosmonauts

Rocket: Soyuz 2.1a

Launch Pad: Site 31/6, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

Destination: International Space Station (Low Earth Orbit)

The Mission

A Soyuz 2.1a rocket and Soyuz MS spacecraft will launch an all Russian-crew to the International Space Station. Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov will enjoy a six-month stint aboard the orbiting laboratory conducting science experiments, amongst other work.

What is Soyuz 2.1a?

Soyuz 2.1a is a three-stage, medium-lift rocket standing 46.3m tall. The rocket is Russia’s workhorse in delivering cargo and crewed spacecraft to the ISS several times a year.

Its first stage consists of four side boosters, each sporting one RD-107A engine, whilst its center core is propelled by a single RD-108A engine. The third stage of the Soyuz 2.1a rocket is then powered by an RD-0110 engine to deliver the Soyuz MS spacecraft to a safe orbit.

Adopting the Kurs-NA automatic docking system, the three-person Soyuz spacecraft consists of an orbital, descent, and service module to deliver the vehicle to and from the ISS and Earth.

Where to watch?

You will find coverage of Friday’s launch on NASA’s YouTube channel. The live stream will begin 40 minutes prior to launch and will offer some of the best views of the launch.

Docking coverage is also set for NASA TV and will go live 50 minutes ahead of docking.

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