On October 31, 07:52:49 UTC
the carrier rocket SOYUZ-U (11 A5 11Y) was launched from the 5th
launcher of the 1st rocket site at the 5th State Trial Spaceport
BAIKONUR. The rocket put the spaceship SOYUZ TM-31 (2000 069A)
into a near-earth orbit.
The spaceship is piloted by GIDZENKO Yuri Pavlovich, the
captain of the spaceship and the pilot of the 1st ISS crew (Russia,
his 2nd flight into Space); KRIKALEV Sergei Kostantinovich, the flight
engineer of the spaceship and the 1st ISS crew (Russia, his 5th flight
into Space); SHEPERD William McMichael, the flight engineer-2
of the spaceship and the captain of the 1st ISS crew (USA, his 4th
flight into Space). The crew call-sign is Uranus.
[The back-up pilots are DEZHUROV Vladimir Nikolaevich, the
spaceship captain, Russia; TIURIN Mihail Vladislavovich, the
flight-engineer, Russia; BOWERSOX Kenneth Dwane, the flight engineer-2,
Presenting at the Spaceport while launching were the leaders
of the Russian Air-Space Agency, the managers of the enterprises
engaged in spaceship and carrier rocket constraction and preparation,
deputies of the State Duma and the Federation Council, foreign guests.
The spaceship and the ISS were docked on November 2.
The 1st crew is going to stay at the station for 117 days. The expedition
will mostly concentrate on preparatory work aimed at further operation,
scientific program being rather modest.
If everything is all right, the 30th of October will designate
the beginning of a new era in the human history, the era of inhabited
space. This momentous event might have happened 11 years before if
there there had been no financial problems connected with the Russian
It is the 1170th space launch from the Spaceport BAIKONUR.
A carrier rocket SOYUZ-U was launched for the 666th time and, despite
of its ordinal number, was a success.
William SHEPERD is the 2nd American astronaut to have departed
into space on board of a Russian spaceship. It was not until March 14,
1995, that another American astronaut, Norman Earl Thagard "took chances"
to start from the Russian Spaceport in a Russian spaceship.