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First Soyuz MS arrives at ISS

Introducing the latest upgrade of the veteran Russian transport ship, the Soyuz MS mission departed Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 7, 2016, at 04:36 Moscow Time (9:36 p.m. EDT on July 6). Two days later, the Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft successfully docked at ISS, delivering three members of the ISS crew, who will serve as 48th and 49th long-duration expedition on the outpost during their 128-day flight.

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Crew members of the Soyuz MS-01 mission pose for pictures inside the integration facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan (left to right): Kate Rubins of NASA, Anatoly Ivanishin of Roskosmos and Takuya Onishi of Japan's aerospace agency, JAXA.

 

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Soyuz MS-01 mission at a glance:

Spacecraft Soyuz MS-01 (11F732 No. 731)
Launch vehicle Soyuz-FG
Launch site Baikonur, Site 1, Pad 5
Crew Anatoly Ivanishin (Roskosmos), Kate Rubins (NASA), Takuya Onishi (JAXA)
Backup crew Oleg Novitsky (Roskosmos), Peggy Witson (NASA), Thomas Pesquet (ESA)
Call sign Irkut
Launch date and time 2016 July 7, 04:36:40.208 Moscow Time
Docking date and time 2016 July 9, 07:12 Moscow Time
Docking location MIM1 Rassvet module, zenith port
Mission duration Actual: 115 days (Originally planned for 129 days)
Landing date and time 2016 Oct. 30, 06:58 Moscow Times

Soyuz MS prepares to fly

Following successful tests of upgrades for the MS series during two Progress missions, the same new features were expected to migrate to the Soyuz spacecraft.

In November 2014, the head of RKK Energia Vladimir Solntsev said that the first upgraded Soyuz MS vehicle would be launched in March 2016. However that plan was affected by several reshuffles of the ISS schedule in 2015. In October, the launch of the first Progress-MS cargo ship was postponed from November 21 to December 21, 2015. The delay had a domino effect on several future ISS missions. The launch of the ISS crew scheduled for March 19, 2016, was switched from the Soyuz MS spacecraft to Soyuz TMA-20M, which previously was not expected to fly until May 2016.

In turn, the first Soyuz MS was rescheduled to fly on June 21, 2016. The rest of the publicly announced schedule included:

  • Launch of Soyuz MS-02 on Sept. 23, 2016;
  • Launch of Progress-MS-04 on Oct. 20, 2016;
  • Launch of Soyuz MS-03 on Nov. 16, 2016.

On April 29, 2016, Roskosmos announced that the launch of Soyuz MS-01 had been postponed from June 21 to June 24. The launch campaign for the mission began in Baikonur in January 2016 with autonomous tests of the Soyuz FG launch vehicle inside a processing building at Site 112. The work started earlier than scheduled to free room for another rocket, which was slated to launch Soyuz TMA-20M in March 2016.

From May 20 to May 25, Soyuz MS went through vacuum chamber tests.

At the beginning of June 2016, technical problems with the flight control system forced to delay the mission again, this time until July 7. A glitch in a flight control unit known as BURK (one of the new features on the MS series), reportedly required to return the system back to Moscow for re-installation of its software.

During a visit to Baikonur on June 25, the prime and backup crews underwent the final dress rehearsal of suiting-up operations for the flight and pressure checks on their spacesuits. They also had a familiarization training inside the actual spacecraft, which was undergoing its final processing at Site 254. The crew members tried communications systems and a laser range finder and had a final look at onboard documentation, including their cargo list.

Critical irreversible operations began with Soyuz MS on June 28, with the fueling of the spacecraft and loading of the pressurized gases. On the same day, the spacecraft was attached to its launch vehicle adapter.

On June 30, 2016, RKK Energia officials conducted the traditional final inspection of the fully assembled Soyuz MS inside the processing building at Site 254, before the spacecraft was hidden under a protective fairing of the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle.

lowering

The Soyuz MS spacecraft is lowered into horizontal position prior to its integration with its payload fairing on June 30, 2016.

Launch profile

The liftoff of a Soyuz-FG rocket was scheduled for July 7, 2016, at 04:36:41 Moscow Time (9:36 p.m. EDT on July 6) from Site 1 in Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The actual liftoff was recorded as 04:36:40.208 Moscow Time.

The launch vehicle carried the 7,220-kilogram Soyuz MS-01 (No. 731) spacecraft with a crew of three bound to the International Space Station, ISS. The commander Anatoly Ivanishin occupied center seat in the ship's descent module with flight engineers Kate Rubins on his right and Takuya Onishi in the left seat.

Propelled by the simultaneous thrust of four engines of the first stage and one engine of the second stage, the rocket headed east to align its ascent trajectory with the orbital plane inclined 51.67 degrees toward the Equator. Slightly less than two minutes into the flight, the ship's emergency escape system jettisoned, immediately followed by the separation of four boosters of the first stage. The second (core) stage of the booster continued firing for less than five minutes into the flight. Almost exactly 40 seconds after the separation of the first stage, payload fairing protecting the spacecraft in the dense atmosphere split into two halves and fell away. Moments before the second stage completed its firing 4.7 minutes into the flight, the four-chamber engine of the third stage ignited, firing through a lattice structure connecting two boosters. Moments after the separation of the core booster, the tail section of the third stage split into three segments and fell away.

The separation of the Soyuz MS-01 from the third stage of the launch vehicle took place also as scheduled at 04:45:29 Moscow Time (9:45 p.m. EDT) into an orbit with nearly planned parameters:

Parameter
Planned orbit
Actual orbit
Orbital period
88.64 minutes (+/-0.367)
88.68 minutes
Inclination
51.67 degrees (+/-0.058)
51.65 degrees
Perigee (lowest point)
200 kilometers (+7/-22)
199.03 kilometers
Apogee (highest point)
242 kilometers (+/-42)
247.13 kilometers

Without any additional maneuvers, the spacecraft would remain in this orbit for around 20 revolutions around the Earth during the next 30 hours, before reentering the Earth's atmosphere.

launch

First Soyuz MS arrives at ISS

Upon reaching its planned orbit, Soyuz MS-01 was 315.3 degrees away and below the ISS, which at the time was circling the planet in the 401.65 by 420.81-kilometer orbit.

To test all its new systems, Soyuz MS-01 followed a two-day, 34-orbit rendezvous scenario rather than a much faster six-hour flight profile practiced in recent missions. According to the Soyuz commander, Anatoly Ivanishin, the first test of the manual flight control system was to be conducted after entering orbit (while another such trial would be attempted after undocking from the station.)

The Soyuz performed three orbital maneuvers during the 3rd and the 17th orbit of the flight, which brought the spacecraft into the vicinity of the station, according to the following planned timeline:

Orbit No.
Time, MSK
Firing duration
delta V
Period
Inclination
Resulting perigee
Resulting apogee
July 7
3
08:09:11
158.6 seconds
21.63 m/s
89.37 minutes
51.66 degrees
214.16 kilometers
283.23 kilometers
3
08:50:02
56.0 seconds
22.55 m/s
90.16 minutes
51.66 degrees
278.84 kilometers
305.25 kilometers
July 8
17
05:19:52
29.0 seconds
2.00 m/s
90.22 minutes
51.64 degrees
284.79 kilometers
305.95 kilometers

chart

approach

Following its orbit corrections, Soyuz MS-01 began an autonomous rendezvous with the ISS around 04:51:00 Moscow Time on July 9, 2016, (9:51 p.m. EDT on July 8), aiming to lock sensors of its Kurs-NA rendezvous system onto the station during the 34th orbit of the mission.

The final maneuvers, including a flyaround of the ISS, a short station-keeping period and berthing began at 06:49:50 Moscow Time on July 9 (11:49 p.m. EDT on July 8).

The spacecraft was scheduled to dock at the MIM1 Rassvet module on the Russian segment of the ISS in the automated mode on July 9, 2016, at 07:12:02 Moscow Time (0:12 a.m. EDT). In reality, the contact between the spacecraft and the station was recorded around six minutes earlier, at 07:06:31 Moscow Time, as the two vehicles were flying over the South Pacific.

Around 09:26 Moscow Time (2:26 a.m. EDT) on July 9, 2016, the Soyuz MS-01 crew joined their colleagues from Expedition 48 aboard the International Space Station, after opening hatches between the transport ship and the outpost.

The Soyuz MS-01 mission supporting the 48th and 49th expedition on the ISS is scheduled to last 129 days. With the arrival of Soyuz MS-01, the station's crew will remain at six people until Sept. 6, 2016, when Soyuz TMA-20M is scheduled to return to Earth with its crew of three.

Soyuz MS-01 lands successfully

Rubins

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins conducts routine spacesuit checks inside Soyuz MS-01.

In preparation for landing of Soyuz MS-01, six crew members aboard the ISS held a formal change of command ceremony on Oct. 28, 2016. During the event, the commander of the Soyuz MS-01 crew Anatoly Ivanishin officially handed over the responsibility for the station to Shane Kimgrough, who arrived on Soyuz MS-02.

On October 29, Ivanishin and his crew mates Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi boarded Soyuz MS-01 around 4:45 p.m. EDT and closed hatches between their spacecraft and the station at 5:12 p.m. EDT. Ivanishin occupied center seat, with Onishi to his left and Rubins in the right seat.

Completing a 115-day mission, Soyuz MS-01 undocked from the MIM1 module, the part of the Russian segment of the station at 8:35:00 p.m. EDT (03:35:00 Moscow Time on Oct. 30, 2016), marking the official beginning of Expedition 50 on the ISS. A command for undocking was issued a minute and a half before springs of the docking mechanism pushed the spacecraft away from the station.

After three minutes in solo flight, Soyuz MS-01 conducted the first of two small maneuvers with its attitude control thrusters to increase its distance from the ISS. The first firing was scheduled at 03:38:00 Moscow Time and the second should take place at 03:44:20 Moscow Time. Between the two maneuvers, Anatoly Ivanishin conducted several tests of the manual control with newly arranged DPO thrusters on the Soyuz MS vehicle.

The 4-minute 37-second deorbiting burn began as scheduled at 11:06:33 p.m. EDT, slowing down Soyuz MS-01 by 128 meters per second. It was followed by the landing in Kazakhstan at 11:58 p.m. EDT on Oct. 29, 2016, (Planned landing time was 06:59:13 Moscow Time on October 30). The descent module of Soyuz MS-01 was expected to touch down around 148 kilometers southeast of Dzhezkazgan.

descent

Prior to landing, NASA's weather forecast predicted winds of around seven knots, near-freezing temperature of 34F degrees and a broken cloud cover at an altitude of 22,000 feet in the landing region.

According to NASA, in preparation for landing, a fleet of 10 Mi-8 rescue helicopters was deployed from the city of Karaganda to the Dzhezkazgan airfield. Two helicopters were deployed at Yubileiny airfield in Baikonur to support an unlikely ballistic landing contingency. Four all-terrain ground vehicles also supported the landing. According to the Russian Central Military District, TsVO, a total of 14 Mi-8 helicopters, two An-12 and An-26 aircraft, 20 ground vehicles and 200 members of the military personnel supported the landing. Rescue operations were coordinated from the headquarters of the 14th Army of the Air Force and Anti-Aircraft Forces in Ekaterinburg.

Rescue services were well positioned to provide live footage of the descending spacecraft during its last 10 minutes in flight and within around 20 minutes after touchdown all three crew members were successfully extracted from the capsule, which landed in vertical position.

Back in orbit, the ISS will remain operated by a three-member crew for three weeks, until the arrival of additional three residents aboard the Soyuz MS-03, scheduled for launch on Nov. 17, 2016.

Planned landing timeline for Soyuz MS-01 on Oct. 30, 2016, Moscow Time:

Milestone
Moscow Time
Altitude, km
Latitude, deg. min
Longitude. deg, min.
Velocity, km/s
G-force
Braking engine firing starts
06:06:33
429.5
-48.14
317.43
7.343
0.00
Braking engine firing ends
06:11:10
420.2
-39.26
337.59
7.229
0.05
Spacecraft sections separation
06:33:39
140.0
+26.53
36.06
7.570
0.00
Atmospheric entry
06:36:26
099.8
+34.53
45.10
7.618
0.00
Aerodynamic control starts
06:37:55
079.8
+38.52
50.53
7.620
0.00
Maximum G-loads
06:42:47
33.5
+46.45
68.35
2.078
3.96
Parachute release command
06:44:42
10.8
+47.14
69.24
0.210
1.16
Landing
06:59:13
00.0
+47.18
69.34
0.000
1.00
Main parachute opening in case of emergency ballistic descent
06:42:30
10.7
+45.27
63.55
0.201
1.22

landing

Soyuz MS-01 (Expedition 48/49) primary and backup crews:

Primary crew Backup crew
Anatoly Ivanishin, Soyuz commander (Roskosmos) Oleg Novitsky (Roskosmos)
Kate Rubins (NASA) Peggy Witson (NASA)
Takuya Onishi (JAXA) Thomas Pesquet (ESA)

Read much more about the history of the Russian space program in a richly illustrated, large-format glossy edition:

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This page is maintaned by Anatoly Zak

Last update: November 2, 2016

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Logo

Logo for the Soyuz MS-01 mission was created by Jorge Cartes of Spain. Credit: Roskosmos


vacuum

Soyuz MS-01 undergoes vacuum chamber tests in May 2016. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


crane

Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos

MS

The Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft during pre-launch processing at Site 254 in Baikonur in June 2016. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


KGCh

Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos

antennas

Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos

fairing

Soyuz MS-01 is being covered with its payload fairing on June 30, 2016. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


The final integration of the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle for the Soyuz MS-01 mission on July 3, 2016. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


installation

Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos

gantry

Soyuz MS-01 reached its launch pad on July 4, 2016. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


ignition

Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos

flight

Soyuz MS-01 lifts off on July 7, 2016. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


approach

Soyuz MS-01 approaches ISS on July 9, 2016. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


docked

Three vehicles simultaneously attached to the ISS on Oct. 26, 2016, including Orbital ATK's Cygnus AO-5 cargo craft (left), the Russian Soyuz MS-01 vehicle (middle) and the Russian Progress MS-02 cargo craft (right.) Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA


command

In preparation for landing of Soyuz MS-01, six crew members aboard the ISS held a formal change of command ceremony on Oct. 28, 2016. During the event, the commander of the Soyuz MS-01 crew Anatoly Ivanishin officially handed over the responsibility for the station to Shane Kimgrough, who arrived on Soyuz MS-02. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA


hatch

Hatches were closed between the spacecraft and the station at 5:12 p.m. EDT on Oct. 29, 2016. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA


undocking

Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA

china

Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA

departure

Soyuz MS-01 departs ISS on Oct. 30, 2016 (Moscow Time). Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA


overlay

ISS as viewed from a camera on the departing Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA


parachute

Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos

touchdown

Descent module of Soyuz MS-01 touches down on Oct. 30, 2016. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA


Ivanishin

Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos

Onishi

Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos

rubins

Search and rescue team members extract Ivanishin, Onishi and Rubins from the descent module of the Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft. Click to enlarge. Credit: Roskosmos


landing

Soyuz MS-01 crew shortly after landing on Oct. 30, 2016. Click to enlarge. Credit: NASA