The Soyuz Rocket Launch From Baikonur Spaceport

On 20 April 2017, the rocket Soyuz MS-04 was successfully launched delivering to International Space Stations (ISS) two astronauts – Fyodor Yurchikhin (Russia) and Jack Fisher (USA). We organized Baikonur launch tour for two tourists, from the Great Britain and South Korea, and now we are glad to present you the photo report about this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

1. After meeting our tourists at the Almaty airport, we flew to Kizilorda. There driver met us and took to Baikonur. We stopped at the hotel Centralnaya with a monument to Lenin nearby - one of the symbols of the former USSR.
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2. Before the start of the main excursion, we had few hours of free time at our disposal to check out the city that resembles any provincial city of Russia (it is rented and administered by Russia).
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3. There are not only many monuments dedicated to astronautics, but also ordinary compositions, sometimes unexpectedly located on the playground.
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4. Food shops offer big variety including alcohol.
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5. It seems impossible to count all images and samples of rockets at Baikonur. This is a minimized still rather large sample of rocket Proton.
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6. The first point of our Baikonur excursion was stela “Science”, one of the symbols of the city.
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7. We then headed to the museum of history of Baikonur located on the second floor of the City Palace of Culture.
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8. The first hall is dedicated to the constructors of the spaceport who previously fought in the World War II. Different kinds of weapons are exhibited there.
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9. You can also find there military uniforms and lots of medals the future creators of Baikonur had been awarded with.
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10. We were then introduced to the history of rocketry in the USSR where you could see nozzles, engines and outer skin of rockets.
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11. Some exhibits were real details of rockets found after the launch.
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12. Many exhibits are hung under the ceiling. For instance, there are samples of spaceships Soyuz (USSR) and Apollo (USA) that reflect historical event, when these Great Powers began to co-operate in the space area.
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13. However, one of the most interesting exhibits is definitely the copy of ISS that will allow you imagine the scales of this international project.
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14. At the end of the Baikonur history museum excursion, they showed us a sample of launch pad and explained rocket launch process.
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15. After the museum, our group headed to see the brightest monuments of Baikonur. The first stop was at the monument of Gagarin, the first astronaut in the world.
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16. You can also find the sample of rocket Soyuz nearby.
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17. Did you know that real rockets once used for different trainings and tests are now considered old and transformed into monuments.
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18. A trip to the monument of rocket constructor M.K.Yangel ended our excursion that day.
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19. It was him, who created intercontinental ballistic rocket 15A15 that was the base of the nuclear shield in USSR.
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20. Next day, early in the morning, we went to the see-off to wave to the astronauts. After half an hour of waiting, Yurchikhin and Fisher came out of the hotel. Showered in the acclaims of the audience, they headed to the cosmodrome.
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21. While entire attention was drawn to the main heroes of the launch, the backup astronauts slipped into the bus unnoticed. These astronauts backup the main crew until the moment of boarding to the rocket. According to the rules of preparation for the space flights, these back up members will be included to the main crew and continue to the ISS with the mission MS-06.
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22. When astronauts departed, people went to see the “Alley of cosmonauts” famous for the fact that every astronaut plants a tree there before the mission. The most popular was the one planted by Gagarin.
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23. After a little walk in the alley of astronauts, we went to the Baikonur space center and on the way saw the first sight for today – radio complex “Saturn” that tracks rocket missions.
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24. On entry to the territory of cosmodrome, we were checked according to the list that include everyone who has the permission to visit this strategically important object.
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25. The first place to visit was the museum of the Baikonur cosmodrome.
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26. It presents the best exhibits including the sample of the space ship Soyuz.
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27. To the right of the museum building, we saw an open exposition with different modules of rocket: engines, fuel tank and others.
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28. The most interesting and the extensive one is the real space shuttle “Buran”.
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29. We viewed it from outside where thermal panels are seen on the frame.
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30. We then went up to the board of this space ship where they have a small museum exhibition on its history.
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31. If you walk further and around the building of the museum, you will find an exhibition of cars used at the space center in the first years of its existence.
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32. Later we had an interesting excursion in the museum halls. There were lots of exhibits, but one of the most remarkable ones was the descent landing module of the Soyuz spacecraft.
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33. The lift was open and one could check how the cabin of astronauts looked like.
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34. We were also shown two historical buildings – houses of Korolev and Gagarin; everything has been preserved there as it was half-century ago.
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35. Then we went to listen to the presentation of astronauts who were all ready for the launch.
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36. They passed by as Hollywood stars on red carpet with people cheering them.
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37. The captain of the ship reported to the director of the Roscosmos that the crew is ready for takeoff and they walked towards the space ship.
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38. One of the touching moments was farewell to relatives who also arrived at the Baikonur cosmodrome.
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39. After spending some time in the museum of the Baikonur cosmodrome, we went to the observation deck; one could see the rocket from there very well.
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40. Assembly workshop was seen from afar.
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41. The radar antennae towered above the observation deck.
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42. Here are some more radar aerials and people who did not fit the observation deck.
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43. Unfortunately, there is not enough space with a decent view on the observation deck. We did not find place either, though we still managed to see the Soyuz rocket launch.
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44. Time passed slowly. The rocket was standing there and suddenly the girder supplying fuel went off. It means the launch should start now.
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45. Engine rumble has begun and flame appeared under the rocket.
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46. Seconds later, the rocket began to go up smoothly jetting fire.
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47. And if in the beginning the takeoff was rather slow, further on, with every second, it was speeding up more.
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48. A minute later, only a small dot could be seen far in the sky.
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49. Another minute later, only trailing vortex was left among the skies.
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50. After the tour climaxed with the launch, our excursion continued. We headed to the launch pad N31 that is the exact copy of the “Gagarin start”.
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51. Along with other tourists, we proceeded to the dangerous zone. It is not safe only before the launch.
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52. This is how the launch pad looks like. Rails are used for delivering the space ship.
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53. Here we learnt how the complicated launch mechanism works.
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54. We also found out that there were 386 launches carried out from this very pad – after each launch they add one more star.
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55. In the end, it was decided to have a group photo with the launch pad N31 in the background.
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56. Our program was coming to its end, and our partners in Baikonur offered to visit a school. It was an International space school named after V.N.Chelomey.
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57. First, they showed us a class where school students design copies of famous samples of planes and rockets.
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58. Then they showed already familiar rocket engines. They are used for teaching students rocketry.
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59. There were other exhibits too. We were told that the graduates of this school very often continue their study at the Moscow Aviation Institute, after become space engineers and some even become astronauts.
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60. The last notable exhibit was the landing capsule for the space ship Proton that did not pass tests and became a sample in this school.
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61. This is how our trip to the Soyuz launch at the Baikonur spaceport finished. Thank you for having this virtual tour with us!
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