Soyuz TMA-16M (ISS-42S) to Launch 1 Year ISS Crew


Image Credit & Copyright: NASA Aubrey Gemignani of the landing of Expedition 42.

Friday, March 27, at 19:42 UTC (15:42 EDT) a Soyuz-FG rocket; TMA-16M (ISS 42S) will be lifting off from Launch Pad 1/Launcher 5 (LC 1/5) at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It will carry two crew members of Expedition 43/44/45 & 46 (And 1 member of Expedition 43/44) to the International Space Station (ISS) on a four orbit, 6 hour “fast-track” launch to docking flight which began manned operations on TMA-08M on March 28, 2013. This mission will kick off the 1 Year Mission of Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko. This will also be the 125th flight of a Soyuz capsule since its 1st launch on April 23, 1967.

The crew will dock with the Russian Mini Research module-2 (MRM-2) Poisk “Search” Module on Saturday morning (Friday night in the U.S.) and that capsule will remain there for approximately 6 months as a crew escape vehicle and ultimately a return vehicle.

Want to see the ISS overhead? Here’s everything you need!


CREW OF TMA-16M (Soyuz 44):

NASA astronaut: Scott Kelly:



Roscosmos cosmonaut: Mikhail Korniyenko:

Roscosmos cosmonaut: Gennady Padalka:


NASA astronaut & ISS Commander: Terry Virts:



ESA astronaut: Samantha Christoforetti:



Roscosmos cosmonaut: Anton Shkaplerov:


*This will fulfill Expedition 43 which began on March 11, 2015 with the undocking of TMA-14M. These three newest crewmembers will begin Expedition 44 on a later date.

SUPERSTISION & TRADITION: Just some the seemingly endless tradition and superstition; Before leaving Star City near Moscow, the crew leaves red roses at the memorial wall which commemorates Gagarin and the 4 other fallen Russian cosmonauts.

They also visit Gagarin’s office, sign his guest book and ask his ghost for permission to fly before heading to the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur. Behind it, a road of trees planted by former crews. Before launch the crew will add their three trees as well. The Soyuz rollout begins at 0700 Baikonur Time as it has done since the Gagarin Flight on April 12, 1961.

The rollout is not allowed to be watched by the primary crew as it is considered bad luck. To help with good luck, technicians flatten coins on the tracks. The rocket will also be blessed by an Orthodox Priest before flight. Anointing the rocket began in 1994 at the request of cosmonaut Alexander Viktorenko before his TM-20 launch to MIR. One of the few traditions not started with Yuri.

The main crew will, before flight, get a haircut and watch the 1969 movie “White Sun of the Desert.” Suit up happens in a tiny room, on display relatively close to onlookers from behind glass. Before leaving the hotel for the launch pad the crew is blessed and they sip wine at breakfast.

As they leave, they sign the door of their room and they are played the song, “The Green Grass Near My Home” which speaks of a cosmonauts love of Earth.

The bus, which has horseshoes on it makes a stop and the crew partakes in a tradition again, started by Gagarin himself; urination of the right rear wheel of the bus. When they finally reach the launch pad they are presented with the talisman in the form of a stuffed animal to be hung from inside the Soyuz capsule for the flight. Also, there are no launches on October 24. And that’s just for LAUNCH! Never mind the landing ritual.

THE ROCKET: Russian Roscosmos Soyuz FG is a three-stage (sort of), medium lift rocket developed and manufactured by the Progress State Research and Production Rocket Space Center (TSsKB Progress). The FG was introduced in 2001 to deliver humans to the International Space Station (ISS). It’s derived from the Soyuz U rocket which is the most flown rocket in history with almost 800 launches and delivered Progress vehicles to the ISS until the recent addition of the Soyuz 2.   The Soyuz “Union” rocket family is the most used space launch system in history with more than 1700 launches and traces its roots back to 1957 in the form of the Soviet R7 missile.

THIRD STAGE (Assembly 1): The third stage, which would really be a second stage on other rockets is 6.7 m in length and 2.6 m in diameter and is powered by a single RD-0110 engine in a four thrust chamber configuration. It utilizes Kerosene fuel and Liquid Oxygen oxidizer and burns for about 230 seconds.

SECOND STAGE (Core Unit): The core stage of the Soyuz is odd in the fact that it burns during the first and second stage of the rocket. As the rocket lifts off, it and the boosters work together as the first stage then after the strap on boosters are jettisoned the core stage continues to operate as the then second stage.

The core (1st & 2nd stage) stage is 27.1 m in length and 2.95 m in diameter and is powered by a single RD-108A engine in a four cruise thrust chamber configuration. It utilizes Kerosene fuel, Liquid Oxygen oxidizer and burns for a total of about 280-290 seconds. Attitude control is powered by four Vernier thrusters.

FIRST STAGE/BOOSTERS (Lateral Assembly): The Soyuz is equipped with four strap-on boosters that are used during first stage flight. They are each 19.6 m in length and 2.68 m in diameter and are each powered by a single RD-107A engine four cruise thrust chamber configuration. They utilize Kerosene fuel and Liquid Oxygen oxidizer and burn for approximately 118 seconds. Attitude control is powered by two Vernier thrusters.


Launch coverage begins at 18:30 UTC (14:30 EDT).

Docking coverage begins at 20:45 EDT.

Hatch Opening coverage begins at 22:45 EDT.

Live Streaming Feed (NASA TV):

NASA TV on Ustream:

Live Streaming Feed (Tsenki):


NASA ISS expedition 43:

NASA 1 year Crew:

TSENKI Soyuz-FG page:

NASA’s HDEV 24hr LIVE streaming feed from the ISS:

NASA ISS main mission page:

NASA ISS multimedia pages:

NASA ISS Photos (All the photos you will ever need from the ISS):

NASA “2 Explore” Flickr:

NASA “HQ Photostream” Flickr:

NASA “Goddard” Flickr:

NASA Spaceflight TMA-15M:

Roscosmos homepage:

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