Two Rockets, Two Visions Await Launch to ISS

Image Credit: NASA

Today finds two launch vehicles and two capsules at their respective pads waiting for blast-off to the International Space Station. First up is the Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, scheduled to launch expedition 39 at 5:17 pm EDT today. The crew consists of Oleg Artemyev,  Alexander Skvortsov, and Steve Swanson.

The mission plan calls for another remarkably swift, 6 hour flight to the orbiting outpost which should see the Soyuz dock to the Poisk module at 11:04 pm EDT.

Meanwhile, at the considerably warmer locale of Cape Canaveral, Florida, the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster and Dragon capsule are also counting down to a launch which is scheduled for 10:50 pm EDT Sunday evening.

The differences between the two rockets could hardly be more pronounced. Though both are powered by kerosene and liquid oxygen, the Soyuz has more than 1800 launches to its credit.  The Falcon 9 has precisely eight.  Lifting off from the wide open steppes of Kazakhstan, the Soyuz requires employs four liquid fuel strap-on boosters to get if off the ground. The Falcon 9 in contrast, will blast off with four deployable legs in the hopes that one day soon, it may may return safely to the ground.

Past and future with a common destination, an orbiting space station which for the moment appears to represent both the figurative and literal high point of relations between the two nations which built it.

Posted in: ISS

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