Next Soyuz Rolls to Launchpad for Fast-Track Flight to the Space Station

A new Soyuz is now on the pad, ready to bring the next crew to the International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for at 20:58 UTC (4:58 p.m. EDT) on September 25. This is the third Soyuz spacecraft to use the new abbreviated rendezvous trajectory with the ISS, where it will reach the space station in just a few hours instead of the usual two days.

Below is a video of the rollout to the pad.

You can see a great collection of images from the rollout, a press conference and more from NASA HQ’s Flickr page.

This Soyuz rocket will send Expedition 37 Soyuz Commander Oleg Kotov, NASA Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins and Russian Flight Engineer Sergei Ryazansky on a five-and-a-half month mission aboard the International Space Station.

In the past, Soyuz manned capsules and Progress supply ships were launched on trajectories that required about two days, or 34 orbits, to reach the ISS. For tomorrow’s launch, the Soyuz will rendezvous with the space station and dock after four orbits of Earth. The new fast-track trajectory has the rocket launching shortly after the ISS passes overhead. Then, additional firings of the vehicle’s thrusters early in its mission expedites the time required for a Russian vehicle to reach the Station.

Docking to the Poisk module on the Russian segment of the station is expected to occur at 02:47 UTC on Sept. 26 (10:47 p.m. EDT, Sept. 25) All the action of the launch and docking will be on NASA TV.

The new crew will join the current Expedition 37 crew of Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin, Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency.

Hopkins, Kotov and Ryazanskiy will remain aboard the station until mid-March. Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano, who have been aboard the orbiting laboratory since late May, will return to Earth Nov. 11, leaving Kotov as commander of Expedition 38.