Expedition 34

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I honestly do not think that watching rocket launches ever get old; not even the flight of Soyuz yesterday carrying Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield. The Russian Soyuz spacecraft left the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan early in the morning of the 19th, on a 2-day trip to the International Space Station.

This is a historic space mission for Canada as it will mark the first time a Canadian assumes the commanding role of the ISS. Chris Hadfield will stay on station for a five-month mission and carry out scientific  experiments, operate Canadarm2, and perform other robotics tasks.

The Soyuz spacecraft and rocket used for Expedition 34 (and many other flights) were initially designed for the Soviet Space Programme and consists of an orbital module, a re-entry module, and a service module. The re-entry module is the only reusable component and both the orbital and reentry modules are adequate for supporting life.

The Soyuz fits three crew members in a fairly claustrophobic chamber known as the habitation section. The compartment also houses equipment, cargo, gear, and even a toilet!

The Soyuz spacecraft launches on a Soyuz rocket, an expendable launcher that uses RP-1 and liquid oxygen for the propellant. The rocket has three stages: a first stage of liquid booster rockets that burn for roughly 2 minutes, a second stage single booster that burns for around 5 minutes, and a 4-minute third stage.

Images from NASA TV during the launch on the 19th.

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