Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Soyuz Quick Tour

The picture above is from a New York Times interactive feature showing the main features of Russia's venerable (but still active) Soyuz spacecraft. The Soyuz is in the news because the latest private "space flight participant," Richard Garriott, finally got his $30 million chance to ride one to space on Sunday, along with American astronaut Michael Fincke and Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov (they docked with the ISS today). Garriott's web site has full information on his flight and activities for his 10 day mission. Air & Space Magazine did an interview with Garriott in March.

The interactive feature is a sidebar to an excellent article on the Russian space center "Star City." Star City is a home away from home for American astronauts (and the occasional space tourist) training to fly with the Russians to the ISS. And assuming the shuttle is retired in 2010 as planned, it will be the one and only gateway to the ISS until (perhaps) 2015 when NASA's Orion spacecraft is expected to become operational. If things continue to go well for SpaceX, astronauts may be able to fly to the ISS on their privately developed Dragon spacecraft before 2015, though there is still a lot of development ahead. There will certainly be some ISS flights of the cargo version of the Dragon first, maybe as soon as 2012.

P.S. For more in-depth information on the Soyuz, check out the Soyuz section of Kosmonavtka, Suzy McHale's excellent site on Russian space flight.

No comments: