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Expedition 31 Blasts Off!

Launch of the Soyuz TMA-04M rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on May 15, 2012 (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

After a six-week delay, the crew of Expedition 31 successfully launched aboard a Soyuz TMA-04M rocket on Tuesday, May 15 at 0301 GMT (11:01 p.m. EDT May 14) from Russia’s historic Baikonur Cosmodrome, located in the steppes of Kazakhstan.

The rocket will deliver NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin to the International Space Station. After a two-day journey, their Soyuz capsule will dock with the ISS at 11:38 p.m. CDT on Wednesday.

The launch was aired live by NASA HD TV. The full launch can be viewed below:

The crew was originally slated to launch on March 30, but problems with a pressure test forced a delay until a new Soyuz rocket could be brought into service. In the meantime ISS crew members Don Pettit, ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers and cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko have had the station to themselves since April 27.

The three new crew members will remain on Space Station until mid-September, serving as flight engineers under Expedition 31 commander Oleg Kononenko until July 1, when the current crew will depart and Padalka will assume command, marking the beginning of Expedition 32.

For more news on Expedition 31, visit NASA’s ISS website here. Also, you can follow NASA astronaut Joe Acaba on Twitter @AstroAcaba.

Members of the media photograph the Soyuz TMA-04M rocket launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Video credit: NASA TV. Images: NASA/Bill Ingalls


A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • fleinkantarell May 15, 2012, 7:39 AM

    Way to go “FruitLoops” :)

    • DrFlimmer May 15, 2012, 9:15 AM

      Damn, I intended to say the same. 😀

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  • David Nightingale May 15, 2012, 8:40 AM

    I love how grungy the Russian hardware and launch facility is. Theres something decidedly functional about the arms that swing at an angle, and the desert, and the fact that everything is painted green indicating the military heritage. In the US its all pretty painted white, and the area around the launch facility looks like a beautifully manicured lawn.

    • fleinkantarell May 15, 2012, 10:05 AM

      True. The Russian Cosmodrome, I love that name btw, can be described with one word; Dieselpunk.

    • Jason Major May 15, 2012, 4:29 PM

      I dunno… that “beautifully manicured lawn” is full of snakes and gators! :)

      • David Nightingale May 19, 2012, 10:09 AM

        yeah but im sure the launch takes care of that :-)

  • zkank May 15, 2012, 4:42 PM

    Soyuz graveyard, and other interesting Russian space equipment:


    Among the images are actual return vehicles.

    Quite the contrast, considering the recent media coverage for Enterprise and Endeavour.

    • David Nightingale May 19, 2012, 10:43 AM

      Thanks – very interesting! you kinda feel sorry for them, lost, busted up and forgotten. No honour afforded to them for the dreams they helped make true, for the flawless performance and the people returned safely to earth.

  • IrmaSDean May 15, 2012, 5:45 PM