Rocket launches new crew to space
BAIKONUR - Agence France-Presse
The Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft blasts off from the Russian leased Kazakh Baikonur cosmodrome on July 15.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 program.
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 program 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 travelers as a good luck charm as the rocket gathered pace.