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Soyuz MS spacecraft

The modified Soyuz MS is equipped with upgraded thrusters that are fully redundant, additional micrometeoroid debris shielding, redundant electrical motors for the Soyuz’ docking probe and increased power with more photovoltaic cells on the spacecraft’s solar arrays. Other enhancements for the Soyuz include a new digital video transmitter and encoder to send engineering video of the ship’s approach to the station for docking, a new relay telemetry capability along with an upgraded Kurs automated rendezvous antenna and an improved satellite navigation system to better calculate the Soyuz’ position in space.

The Soyuz (SAW-yooz) is a Russian spacecraft. Astronauts and cosmonauts travel to the International Space Station on the Soyuz. The Soyuz launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. It is located in Kazakhstan, a country on Russia’s southern border. The Soyuz transports crews to the International Space Station and returns them to Earth after their missions. The crew rides in the part of the spacecraft called a capsule. Up to three astronauts or cosmonauts can ride in a Soyuz capsule. The Soyuz is like a lifeboat for the space station. At least one Soyuz is always docked at the space station. If there is an emergency, the station crew can use the Soyuz to return to Earth.

The Soyuz capsule is made up of three main parts. They are the Orbital Module, the Descent Module and the Instrumentation/Propulsion Module. The crew uses the Orbital Module as a living space while they are in orbit. It has about as much room inside as a large van. The Orbital Module has a docking hatch that can connect to the space station. The Descent Module is where the crew sits during launch and landing. The controls for the spacecraft are in this section of the Soyuz. The Instrumentation/Propulsion Module is home to the life support systems, batteries, solar panels and steering engines for the spacecraft.

The Soyuz capsule launches on top of a Soyuz rocket. The crew enters the spacecraft about two hours and 30 minutes before launch. When the Soyuz is taking a crew to the International Space Station, the spacecraft can take six hours to catch up with the space station as it orbits Earth. Docking to the station is automated. This means the crew does not have to steer Soyuz to the station.

The station crew returns to Earth on a Soyuz spacecraft. On the return trip, only the Descent Module lands. The other two modules are ejected. They burn up in Earth's atmosphere. Just 15 minutes before landing, four parachutes deploy to slow the spacecraft.

First, two pilot parachutes open. Then a drogue (pronounced drohg) parachute deploys on the second pilot chute. This drogue parachute is larger and slows the spacecraft’s speed from 230 meters per second (755 feet per second) to 80 meters per second (262 feet per second). Finally, the fourth and main parachute deploys. The main parachute is 40 times larger than the drogue chute. The main chute changes the angle of the Soyuz capsule to decrease the amount of heat around the vehicle as it travels through Earth’s atmosphere. Then the angle changes again so that the capsule is upright. The main chute slows the vehicle to 7.3 meters per second (24 feet per second).

But this speed is still too fast for landing. Unlike the U.S. space shuttle, which flew until 2011, the Soyuz does not have wheels and does not land like an airplane. One second before landing, two sets of small engines fire on the bottom of the spacecraft. These engines slow the spacecraft even more to try to keep its landing from being too rough. But it is still a hard landing. The Soyuz lands somewhere within a selected 40-kilometer (25-mile) area in the grassy plains of Kazakhstan. The return trip on the Soyuz only takes 3 1/2 hours from space station to Kazakhstan.

  • NASA astronaut Kate Rubins of NASA, Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency safely landed their Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft in Kazakhstan southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan at 11:58 p.m. EDT on Saturday, 29 October 2016. The trio’s spacecraft completed the first flight to station for the upgraded Soyuz MS-01 when it launched in July.

  • The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 4:40 a.m. EDT Thursday, Oct. 11 (2:40 p.m. in Baikonur) carrying American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. Shortly after launch, there was an anomaly with the booster and the launch ascent was aborted, resulting in a ballistic landing of the spacecraft. Search and rescue teams were deployed to the landing site. Hague and Ovchinin were reported to be in good condition. They were transported to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia outside of Moscow. The incident was the first failure of a manned space launch in modern Russian history and prompted Roscosmos to set up a special commission to find out the causes of the failure.

    According to preliminary data, the Soyuz accident occurred because one of the four first stage units hit the second stage and pressure dropped. The launch operators reported on the staff of the four lateral accelerator units of the first stage, but at the initial stage of the second stage, the Russian-language translation of the launch was interrupted after the words “carrier crash”. The accident occurred at the 119th second of the flight when the side blocks of the first stage were separated from the central unit of the second stage. “Perhaps due to poor attachment when separating blocks of the first stage, one of them could have hooked on the central unit, which caused an accident,” a source said. “At the 123rd second, the emergency rescue system triggered, it worked out normally, allowed the parachute to be opened, the capsule separated from the launch vehicle, the crew landed safely on Earth,” said Deputy Prime Minister for the defense industry, Yury Borisov.

    According to previously published cyclograms of manned launches, the separation of the first stage occurs approximately at the 118th second of flight, the second stage - at approximately 290th. The rescue of astronauts to the 117th second of the flight is ensured by the reactive emergency rescue system (SAS), which is then reset. After the accident at a later stage, the ballistic trajectory descends, in which the crew experiences significant overload.

    A similar incident occurred in 1975, when the second rocket failed at the launch of the Soyuz-18 spacecraft with Soviet cosmonauts Vasily Lazarev and Oleg Makarov. Then the descent vehicle landed in Altai, and the crew had to go through very significant overloads. The accident at the launch of the Soviet manned spacecraft "Soyuz T-10" occurred in 1983 during the launch itself. Then the crew, composed of Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov, was rescued with the help of a properly functioning CAC.

  • The Soyuz MS-22 crew ship that carried the trio to the space station on Sept. 21, 2022, experienced a coolant leak on Dec. 14, and will depart for Earth uncrewed in late March.
  • Russia launched the Soyuz MS-23 rescue ship on 24 February 2023 for two cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut whose original ride home sprang a dangerous leak while parked at the International Space Station. The capsule leak in December 2022 was blamed on a micrometeorite that punctured an external radiator, draining it of coolant. The same thing appeared to happen again earlier this month, this time on a docked Russian cargo ship. Camera views showed a small hole in each spacecraft. The Russian Space Agency delayed the launch of the replacement Soyuz, looking for any manufacturing defects. No issues were found, and the agency proceeded with the predawn launch from Kazakhstan of the capsule with bundles of supplies strapped into the three seats. Meanwhile, the seven Expedition 68 members living in space are gearing up for the new spaceship arrivals and preparing for the departure of four crewmates, all while continuing a host of microgravity research.

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    Page last modified: 24-02-2023 14:34:58 ZULU