Members of Expedition 48-49 are already in outer space and flying inside Soyuz-MS to International Space Station.
Finally yesterday around 23:30 GMT Kate Rubins, (NASA, flight engineer, first space flight), Anatoly Ivanishin (Roscosmos, commander, second space flight) and Takuya Onishi (JAXA, flight engineer, first space flight) all wearing Sokol space suits, took their places inside Soyuz-MS spacecraft. Ivanishin took center place inside Soyuz-MS; Takuya Onishi sat on the left side and Kate Rubins on the right side of the flight commander’s seat. It is worth to mention that Takuya Onishi was designated as first flight officer-his duties were to help and support Anatoly Ivanishin during flight and docking.
Soyuz-MS weighs 6800 kg (7220 kg before start); heaviest part of the spacecraft is descent module (2900 kg) which diameter is 2.2 m and length is 2.1 m; it is also smallest part of the Soyuz; its mass is caused by heavy thermal shields and rugged construction which helps in providing safe reentry. Lightest module is orbital capsule, where crew members took their places – it weighs 1300 kg with diameter of 2.2m and length of 2.6 m. Service module which is widest part of the spacecraft (diameter of 2.7 m, solar arrays span at 10.6 m, length of the module is 2.5 m) weighs 2600 kg.
Rocket, was rolled out and delivered to Launch Pad 5 at Gagarin’s Start launch site already on July 4. When crew members were passing 49 m of height of Soyuz-FG to reach Soyuz-MS covered with fairing, their launch vehicle was during fueling procedure. Fifty minutes later hatch of the Soyuz was closed and members of service team started to perform leak test to confirm correct hatch closing; process of fueling rocket was ended. At 01:00 GMT two supporting towers started to be lowered and safety system which provides possibility of jettisoning space capsule with special beam with rocket thrusters was activated.
After next fifteen minutes crew members were checking their Sokol suits; specialists in Mission Control Center in Korolev, Moscow were waiting to see telemetry data from Soyuz, which activated its telemetry system at this time along with thermal control system. Next step was to turn on flight parameters recorder inside Soyuz-MS. At T-6′ start key was already on its place and rocket was almost ready to start. At T-2′ fueling system was pressurized, safety valves were closed, all control systems were activated. Crew members were waiting for takeoff with closed helmets and locked belts, Anatoly Ivanishin was checking systems using special stick which helps in reaching console placed too far to use it when seat belts are closed. Two arms with last electrical cables and connectors for ground service systems were still attached to Soyuz-FG. Upper arm was detached at T-1′, just before switching vehicle to internal power and starting automatic launch sequence. Lower arm was detached in the last moment before ignition. Maybe one second before Soyuz started to raise, at 01:36 GMT, four smaller supporting towers were retracted and Soyuz lifted off. After one minute of flight all parameters were correct and Soyuz-MS prepares to jettison beam of rescue system at T+1’54”. Four boosters were separated at T+1’58”. At T+2’20” rocket was already on altitude of 66 km and was continuing its flight to North East direction with speed of 7000 km/h. At T+2’38” fairing which covered Soyuz-MS was jettisoned on altitude of 80 km. At T+4’50” first core stage was separated during slight with speed at 14000 km/h on altitude of 159 km. Upper stage was continuing flight with Soyuz-MS on atop to designated orbit with inclination at 51.6° and perigee at 189 km and apogee at 230 km. Crew members were reporting that they are in good condition, flight parameters were correct. At T+9′ Soyuz separates from upper stage and is starting its autonomous flight to ISS, which will be finished with docking to on 9th July at 04:12 GMT.