Video: Soyuz blasts off

updated 12/15/2010 3:40:22 PM ET 2010-12-15T20:40:22

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft blasted off to the International Space Station on Wednesday, launching three new crewmates to the orbiting outpost.

The Soyuz TMA-20 took off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:09 p.m. ET with NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman, Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli on board.

Kondratyev is commander for the two-day Soyuz trip to the International Space Station. The trio is expected to dock at the station on Friday at 3:12 p.m. ET. [Graphic: Inside and Out: The International Space Station]

Several days before launch, Nespoli shared details about his Soyuz vehicle on Twitter, where he posts updates under the name @Astro_Paolo. "The Soyuz: small but reliable. 8min 30sec to Low Earth orbit & 48 hrs to catch-up with the ISS!" Nespoli wrote.

Coleman, Kondratyev and Nespoli are beginning a mission due to last roughly five and a half months at the space station, where they will conduct scientific research and space station maintenance. Kondratyev is also expected to perform at least one spacewalk.

Image: NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman (left), Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev (middle), and European astronaut Paolo Nespoli
NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman (left), Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev (middle), and European astronaut Paolo Nespoli (right) look out from their Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft at Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Coleman, Kondratyev and Nespoli headed for the International Space Station on Wednesday.

The Soyuz TMA-20 spacefliers will make up the remainder of the station's Expedition 26 crew when they join the three astronauts already living onboard the orbiting outpost. Station commander Scott Kelly of NASA and flight engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka of Russia have been living at the station since early October.

  1. Space news from
    1. KARE
      Teen's space mission fueled by social media

      Science editor Alan Boyle's blog: "Astronaut Abby" is at the controls of a social-media machine that is launching the 15-year-old from Minnesota to Kazakhstan this month for the liftoff of the International Space Station's next crew.

    2. Buzz Aldrin's vision for journey to Mars
    3. Giant black hole may be cooking up meals
    4. Watch a 'ring of fire' solar eclipse online

This spaceflight is the third for Coleman, the second for Nespoli, and the first for Kondratyev.

"This is my first flight and I need to learn from my friends everything on the station and get ready to be a commander for the second time, for second part of the mission, so that's quite challenging for me, but I have support from all of my crew members, so they understand and I think there won't be any problems," Kondratyev said in a preflight interview.

Over the course of their mission, Coleman, Kondratyev and Nespoli will oversee the arrival of two unmanned cargo supply ships — one from Europe and the other from Japan. They will also host two final space shuttle missions before their retirement — Discovery's STS-133, which is scheduled for early February; and Endeavour's STS-134, which is expected to fly in April.

Throughout their time on the space station, Coleman, Kondratyev and Nespoli will also be engaged in educational outreach.

Nespoli will be conducting tests on a special greenhouse that he is bringing to the orbiting laboratory. Students all over the world are invited to follow the progress of the experiment.

  1. Most popular

"We'll do observations of the plant to figure out how it grows in space and on the ground," Nespoli told in a preflight interview. "It lets the kids see that even with simple things, they can approach them with a scientific mentality and start thinking in that direction. This is a great program that helps let people know that we can use the station in a lot of good ways."

Nespoli will also use ESA's novel 3-D camera to capture unprecedented images of the station.

And in their spare time, the spacefliers are hoping to savor the experience of living on the space station.

"I'm excited about trying to somehow convey the experience of living in space back home," Coleman said in a preflight interview. "I'm also going to bring my flute. I'll bring music that I can listen to and play at the same time. I'll also be blogging, video blogging and taking pictures. And I can't wait to look out the window." will provide complete coverage of the Expedition 26 crew's mission to the International Space Station. Click here for mission updates and launch updates. The Soyuz TMA-19 will dock at the station on Friday at 3:12 p.m. ET.

You can follow Staff Writer Denise Chow on Twitter @denisechow.

© 2013 All rights reserved. More from

Interactive: All about the International Space Station

Photos: Month in Space: January 2014

loading photos...
  1. Southern stargazing

    Stars, galaxies and nebulas dot the skies over the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Paranal Observatory in Chile, in a picture released on Jan. 7. This image also shows three of the four movable units that feed light into the Very Large Telescope Interferometer, the world's most advanced optical instrument. Combining to form one larger telescope, they are greater than the sum of their parts: They reveal details that would otherwise be visible only through a telescope as large as the distance between them. (Y. Beletsky / ESO) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A balloon's view

    Cameras captured the Grandville High School RoboDawgs' balloon floating through Earth's upper atmosphere during its ascent on Dec. 28, 2013. The Grandville RoboDawgs’ first winter balloon launch reached an estimated altitude of 130,000 feet, or about 25 miles, according to coaches Mike Evele and Doug Hepfer. It skyrocketed past the team’s previous 100,000-feet record set in June. The RoboDawgs started with just one robotics team in 1998, but they've grown to support more than 30 teams at public schools in Grandville, Mich. (Kyle Moroney / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Spacemen at work

    Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, right, and Sergey Ryazanskiy perform maintenance on the International Space Station on Jan. 27. During the six-hour, eight-minute spacewalk, Kotov and Ryazanskiy completed the installation of a pair of high-fidelity cameras that experienced connectivity issues during a Dec. 27 spacewalk. The cosmonauts also retrieved scientific gear outside the station's Russian segment. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Special delivery

    The International Space Station's Canadian-built robotic arm moves toward Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Cygnus autonomous cargo craft as it approaches the station for a Jan. 12 delivery. The mountains below are the southwestern Alps. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Accidental art

    A piece of art? A time-lapse photo? A flickering light show? At first glance, this image looks nothing like the images we're used to seeing from the Hubble Space Telescope. But it's a genuine Hubble frame that was released on Jan. 27. Hubble's team suspects that the telescope's Fine Guidance System locked onto a bad guide star, potentially a double star or binary. This caused an error in the tracking system, resulting in a remarkable picture of brightly colored stellar streaks. The prominent red streaks are from stars in the globular cluster NGC 288. (NASA / ESA) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Supersonic test flight

    A camera looking back over Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo's fuselage shows the rocket burn with a Mojave Desert vista in the background during a test flight of the rocket plane on Jan. 10. Cameras were mounted on the exterior of SpaceShipTwo as well as its carrier airplane, WhiteKnightTwo, to monitor the rocket engine's performance. The test was aimed at setting the stage for honest-to-goodness flights into outer space later this year, and eventual commercial space tours.

    More about SpaceShipTwo on PhotoBlog (Virgin Galactic) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Red lagoon

    The VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile captured this richly detailed new image of the Lagoon Nebula, released on Jan. 22. This giant cloud of gas and dust is creating intensely bright young stars, and is home to young stellar clusters. This image is a tiny part of just one of 11 public surveys of the sky now in progress using ESO telescopes. (ESO/VPHAS team) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Fire on the mountain

    This image provided by NASA shows a satellite view of smoke from the Colby Fire, taken by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft as it passed over Southern California on Jan. 16. The fire burned more than 1,863 acres and forced the evacuation of 3,700 people. (NASA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Where stars are born

    An image captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Orion Nebula, an immense stellar nursery some 1,500 light-years away. This false-color infrared view, released on Jan. 15, spans about 40 light-years across the region. The brightest portion of the nebula is centered on Orion's young, massive, hot stars, known as the Trapezium Cluster. But Spitzer also can detect stars still in the process of formation, seen here in red hues. (NASA / JPL-Caltech) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Cygnus takes flight

    Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket rises from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va, on Jan. 9. The rocket sent Orbital's Cygnus cargo capsule on its first official resupply mission to the International Space Station. (Chris Perry / NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A long, long time ago...

    This long-exposure picture from the Hubble Space Telescope, released Jan. 8, is the deepest image ever made of any cluster of galaxies. The cluster known as Abell 2744 appears in the foreground. It contains several hundred galaxies as they looked 3.5 billion years ago. Abell 2744 acts as a gravitational lens to warp space, brightening and magnifying images of nearly 3,000 distant background galaxies. The more distant galaxies appear as they did more than 12 billion years ago, not long after the Big Bang. (NASA / NASA via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Frosty halo

    Sun dogs are bright spots that appear in the sky around the sun when light is refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere. These sun dogs appeared on Jan. 5 amid brutally cold temperatures along Highway 83, north of Bismarck, N.D. The temperature was about 22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, with a 50-below-zero wind chill.

    Slideshow: The Year in Space (Brian Peterson / The Bismarck Tribune via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments