Russian rocket launches new crew to space

A Soyuz rocket blasted off with an international crew of three toward the International Space Station on Sunday in a mission testing the reliability of Russia's crisis-prone space programme.

NASA's Sunita Williams and Japan's Akihiko Hoshide and Yury Malenchenko of Russia started their journey on top of the Soyuz-FG under the open skies of the Kazakh steppe on schedule and without a hitch.

The trio gave big thumbs up after the needle-shaped craft pierced a thin layering of white clouds and safely reached orbit about nine minutes later.

"Goodbye Planet Earth for now! Woo Hoo!" Williams tweeted a few hours before the 305-tonne craft shook the ground with a violent orange explosion of booster rocket flames.

Russia's Roscosmos space programme chief Vladimir Popovkin told reporters that he spoke briefly to the crew members a few minutes into their journey and "They feel fine. I have no doubts that everything will go well."

Live footage from inside the Soyuz TMA-05M capsule that will dock to the ISS after a two-day journey showed a small doll in a red dress hanging before the three space travellers as a good luck charm as the rocket gathered pace.

The astronauts read calmly through thick printouts of their crew procedures while mission commander Malenchenko picked at some of the more distant controls on the panel with a black stick in his hand.

"That is one of the more low-tech aspects of the Soyuz spacecraft," the NASA flight commentator said in a live video feed.

"Some of those buttons are a little bit far away from the crew members so that stick makes it a little easier for him to access the controls."

The workhorse of Russian spaceflight -- briefly grounded last year amid a spate of launch accidents affecting cargo craft and satellites -- today represents the world's last human link to the international science lab.

The final launch of a US satellite in July 2011 left nations dependent on the reliability of Russia's Soviet-era space achievements while governments and private companies scramble for new ways to launch humans to the station and beyond.

The US company SpaceX blazed a new path for private spaceflight by sending a cargo vessel called Dragon to the ISS in May.

But the reliability of such spacecraft is still too untested to entrust them with humans even as other companies join the private space race.

Russia's underfunded Roscosmos agency meanwhile has been hit by turmoil that saw several changes in leadership and bickering with other segments of the space programme -- particularly those responsible for updating the Soyuz.

Roscosmos had earlier this year released a somewhat vague mission statement through 2030 that emphasised new voyages to the Moon and the further scientific exploration of Mars while downplaying human spaceflight.

It also placed a short-term emphasis on purchasing foreign technology that could help bring Russia up to par with the United States.

The team speeding toward the ISS will join Russians Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin as well as NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba -- a crew that lifted off from the Moscow-leased launch centre in Kazakhstan on May 15.

Both Williams and Akihiko have experience on board the space station but had never before travelled on the Soyuz.

Akihiko particularly expressed thanks to those preparing the Russian craft for the journey and tweeted that "everybody is working with pride."

Williams -- a naval aviator who was once deployed to Iraq -- for her part told reporters that she will be excited to watch the London Summer Olympic Games from the station and put a much more global perspective on the event.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines backs support for small enterprises at APEC meet

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines' top trade official on Saturday called for support for the integration of micro, small and medium enterprises in global trade, which he said would help reduce poverty and inequality in the Asia-Pacific region. …

  • US renews travel warning to Mindanao
    US renews travel warning to Mindanao

    The US State Department renewed its warning about the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu archipelago, certain regions and cities of Mindanao and the southern Sulu Sea area. In an update on Wednesday of a travel warning it issued Nov. 20, 2014, the State Department said US citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu archipelago due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there. …

  • Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda
    Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda

    The Philippine initiative to put the interests of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) front and center in global and regional trade has made significant progress following the conclusion on Thursday of the 2nd APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings in Boracay, Aklan. Called “The Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs,” the Philippine proposal calls for a host of specific, concrete and practical interventions that APEC economies can implement to provide MSMEs wider …

  • Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week
    Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week

    The Philippines will join a 15-nation meeting in Bangkok, Thailand next week to address the migration crisis involving thousands of Rohingyas who escaped persecution in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima bared this yesterday after meeting with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) representative to the Philippines Bernard Kerblat. In an interview, De Lima said the Philippine government has been invited to the meeting. …

  • Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon
    Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon

    LEGAZPI CITY—A magnitude 4.2 earthquake hit Prieto Diaz town in Sorsogon before dawn yesterday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. …

  • Drought-resistant rice breeds bared
    Drought-resistant rice breeds bared

    SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija – Amid the searing heat, the Philippine Rice Research Institute central experiment station here has identified nine rice breeds which have been proven to be drought-resistant and produce high yields in temperatures as high as 38°C based on a recent study. Thelma Padolina, lead researcher of the study titled “Screening of rice-induced mutants for heat and drought tolerance,” identified the breeding lines as the Ballatinaw lines, PSB Rc72H and Azucena lines. …

  • Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning
    Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning

    The United States military will continue air and sea patrols in international waters even after the Chinese navy repeatedly warned a US surveillance plane to leave the airspace over artificial islands China is creating in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippine government also declared it would continue activities in the region, calling on China to respect freedom of navigation and aviation. “Our position on the importance of letting freedom of navigation, freedom of aviation and …

  • MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned
    MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned

    Electricity and mobile phone services would be cut throughout Metro Manila, and all private and government offices and businesses, including shopping malls, would be closed. That would be the situation on July 16 between 3 and 8 p.m. to simulate the scenario of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has warned that an earthquake of that magnitude could occur and kill at least 33,500 people and injure at least 113,600 others following a …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options