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The Soyuz booster rocket FG with the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft is mounted on the launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome. Image Credit: AFP

This is the tenth report in a 10-day countdown for the launch of UAE’s first man in space.

UAE IN SPACE

Baikonur, Kazakhstan: It's all systems go for the launch of the Soyuz rocket that will take the UAE’s first astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori to the International Space Station (ISS).

Salem Al Merri, Assistant Director-General of Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), on Monday said "everything is going as per schedule".

"What's happened is after the assembly, the Soyuz rocket as well as the encapsulated Soyuz spacecraft have been rolled out of the assembly building all the way to Gagarin's Start launch pad, which is where Yuri Gagarin was launched from."

"The rocket has been verticalised, which means all the procedures to build up the rocket has been done successfully. The rocket is ready now," Al Merri, also the head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, told Gulf News.

"They will be starting refuelling and once it's fuelled up, obviously we are getting closer and closer to the launch date."

UAE flag hoisted

He said seeing the UAE flag hoisted stand by side with the giants of the space sector with the Soyuz rocket in the background is rewarding.

"For us to see the UAE flag everywhere here in Baikonur, to see the flag alongside the United States and Russian flag and the logo of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre on the rocket itself, this showcases that two or three years of hard work are coming to an exciting conclusion very soon."

"Obviously, the launch on the 25th is one event. We have a series of events happening in the next 10-15 days that involve Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi all the way up to landing and what's happening after that. So I'm very excited. I'm very happy," he said.

"The astronauts are excited. They can't wait for the 25th (of September) and so can't we as well."

Al Merri said Hazzaa and Sultan are in high spirits and their isolation from the world due to the mandatory pre-launch quarantine has not affected their demeanor at all.

"They're doing great. I met with them yesterday and we'll meet with them today. We've been going over the final schedule changes and all the last minute checks and items that they have to be doing," Al Merri said.

"They were in a very good mood. They were very happy. They've been in isolation for over 10 days but you wouldn't think that they're in isolation," he added.

190923 rocket

The moral support UAE residents are sending, from school kids and regular folks, even the presence of UAE residents in Baikonur, especially the astronauts' families have helped a lot in boosting their morale.

"I think they're very happy to see all of us, to see all of the people, as we're getting closer to this date. They're getting closer to their final objective. So they were excited, happy and very confident," he said.

Around 20 family members of the astronauts are in Baikonur to witness the launch and give support to Hazzaa and Sultan.

"We have about 20 family members and Hazzaa's children are here as well with his wife with his family members. They're excited."

"They're proud and they're happy and I think they are also meeting with the astronauts on a daily basis behind the glass. These chances that they get to meet the astronauts before launch boost the astronauts as well as boost the family. So I think everybody's happy and we're really looking forward to this moment. It's good to be here."

EXPECTED WEATHER ON WEDNESDAY:

Weather in Baikonur on launch day is expected to be partly cloudy with light winds of 11km/h blowing eastward. Minimum temperature could drop to 9C early in the morning and in the evening. Maximum temperature will reach 22C.

Sunset is expected at 6.39pm just 17 minutes before launch at 6.56pm in Kazakhstan and 5.56pm in the UAE.

Accuweather meanwhile has forecasted the mercury to drop to 8-degree Cesius in the evening. It also sees a 53 per cent chance of occasional rain or drizzle at night.

Soyuz rocket -001
The 50-metre-long Soyuz rocket is roughly the height of a 13-storey commercial building. It has a liftoff mass of between 310 and 313 tonnes. Image Credit: Janice Ponce De Leon / Gulf News

Launch and flight sequence

  • The first stage of the rocket is its central block — plus the four boosters.
  • Upon ignition, this provides the most powerful thrust on lift-off and once the fuel is consumed, the first stage will be cut off and will separate from the rocket.
  • The nose fairing of the rocket will also separate to expose the Soyuz spacecraft sitting on top of the rocket.
  • The second stage will then provide the power and lift following which it will be jettisoned and the third stage will continue powering up to space.
  • Once the third stage has used up its fuel, it will separate from the spacecraft and the solar arrays will be deployed at roughly 8min and 49 seconds after lift-off.

The nose fairing of the rocket will also separate to expose the Soyuz spacecraft sitting on top of the rocket.

The second stage will then provide the power and lift following which it will be jettisoned and the third stage will continue powering up to space.

Once the third stage has used up its fuel, it will separate from the spacecraft and the solar arrays will be deployed at roughly 8min and 49 seconds after lift-off.

The chase begins

Then the “chase” begins.

The Soyuz spacecraft will fly to the direction of the ISS and will rendezvous with the orbital lab in approximately six hours.

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Image Credit: AFP

Docking will take place at around midnight in the UAE. The hatch will be opened after two hours — following a procedure to make sure that there are no leaks or pressure differences.

Once the hatch opens, the new crew members will be welcomed to the ISS.