Station’s Next Crew Prepares For Launch

Image credit & copyright: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 03:13 EDT (07:13 UTC) a Soyuz-FG rocket; MS-04 (ISS 50S or Soyuz 52) will be lifting off from Launch Pad 1/Launcher 5 (LC 1/5) at the legendary Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Its Soyuz spacecraft (callsign Olimp or Olympus) will carry two crew members of Expedition 51/52 to the International Space Station (ISS) on a six-hour, four-orbit “fast-track” launch to docking.   This will be the 4th flight of the upgraded Soyuz which replaces the TMA series.

The crew will dock with the Russian Mini Research module-2 (MRM-2) Poisk “Search” Module later that evening and that capsule will remain there for approximately 6 months as a crew escape vehicle should they need it and ultimately a return vehicle.

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

Image credit & copyright: NASA/Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center/Andrey Shelepin.

CREW OF: MS-04, Soyuz 52, ISS 50S, Expedition 51/52

NASA astronaut,: Jack Fischer:

NASA bio:




Roscosmos cosmonaut, Fyodor Yurchikhin:

NASA bio:


NASA astronaut, Peggy Whitson:

NASA bio:




Roscosmos cosmonaut, Oleg Novitskiy:

NASA bio:

ESA (French) astronaut, Thomas Pesquet:

ESA bio:

Thomas’s “Proxima” mission blog:





Image Credit & Copyright: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani of the rollout of TMA-20M on March 16, 2016.

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.

Watch Live:

Launch overage: Thursday, April 20 at 02:15 EDT (06:15 UTC).

Docking coverage: Thursday, April 20 at 08:00 EDT (12:00 UTC).

Hatch opening coverage: Thursday, April 20 at 10:45 EDT (14:45 UTC).

Live Streaming Feed (NASA TV):

NASA TV on Ustream:

NASA TV schedule:

Mission Information:

NASA Expedition 51/52 press release:

NASA ISS Expedition 51 :

NASA ISS Expedition 51 Mission Summary:

RSC Energia MS-04 Image Pages:

General ISS Pages:

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

NASA ISS main mission page:


ISS Main Twitter:

ISS Research Twitter:

ISS CASIS Twitter:

ISS Facebook:

ISS CASIS Facebook:

ISS Instagram:

ISS CASIS Instagram:

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:

Great ISS schedule page:

All ISS Expeditions:

All Russian manned missions:


Main Site:






S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation “RSC Energia”

Main Site:

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