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Previous mission: Soyuz TM-32

During manned operations of the International Space Station, a three-seat Soyuz spacecraft plays a role of the rescue vehicle for the resident crew of the outpost.

The hardware resources and propellant properties employed in the design of the Soyuz's reentry capsule limit the safe operation of the craft in space by six months. Since at least one Soyuz had to be docked to the Ineternational Space Station constantly to provide emergency escape for the three-person resident crew, Russia committed to fly a fresh Soyuz to the ISS every six months to replace its predecessor. Missions to replace Soyuz at the station became known as "taxi" flights.

The Soyuz spacecraft with "tail" number 207 became the third Soyuz to fly to the ISS. It was scheduled to replace the Soyuz TM-32, which arrived to the ISS in April 2001.

In April 2001, European Space Agency, ESA, French Space Agency, CNES, and Russian Aviation and Space Agency, Rosaviacosmos signed an agreement on the flight of the ESA astronaut with the "taxi" crew to the ISS in October 2001.

Russia considered second paid passenger for mission in October

Posted: 2001 June 28; updated: July 2

RKK Energia considered sending another commercial passenger to the International Space Station along with the taxi crew, which was scheduled for launch onboard the Soyuz TM spacecraft at the end of October 2001.

Currently, the crew, which would deliver fresh Soyuz rescue vehicle to the ISS, consists of Russian commander Viktor Afanasiev and flight engineer Konstantin Kazeev, as well as an experienced French female astronaut, who will conduct a commercial mission paid for by the French Space Agency, CNES. Recently, however, RKK Energia explored the possibility of sending a second paid passenger, who would replace the Russian flight engineer onboard the Soyuz. In this case, the French astronaut, Claudie Haigneré would have to play a role of the flight engineer onboard the Soyuz. Russian space officials said that she had been trained for the task.

Due to very short time left for the training of a potential passenger for the flight, RKK Energia, considers only experienced candidates -- reportedly, a fully trained Canadian astronaut. According to James Oberg, an observer of the Russian space program, last fall Canadian Space Agency had already considered sending its experienced astronaut -- Julie Payette -- onboard the same Soyuz in October. The idea was reportedly dropped at the time due to lack of funds, Oberg's source said.

In any case, Russian sources pointed out that no commercial agreement on the second commercial passenger has been reached so far and time was running out for such a deal.

In the meantime, Moscow radio station, Ekho Moskvy, reported that Russian space officials were in talks with Australian businessman interested in a tourist seat onboard unspecified Russian spacecraft.

Soyuz TM-32 redocks, makes room for its successor

October 19: At 14:48 Moscow Time, the Soyuz TM-32 with the three-man crew of the station's Expedition 3 onboard undocked from the nadir (Earth-facing) port of the Zarya Control Module and after a 16-minute free flight docked to the nadir port of the Pirs Docking Compartment. The maneuver freed the port and its rendezvous and docking system for the arrival of the Soyuz TM-33 scheduled for October 23.

Soyuz TM-33 heads toward the station

October 21: The Soyuz TM-33 spacecraft, with two Russian cosmonauts and a French researcher onboard, blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome, heading toward the International Space Station, ISS. The successful launch took place at 12:59 Moscow Time (14:59 Baikonur, 4:59 a.m. EDT) from Launch Pad Number 5 at Site 1 in Baikonur.

The main goal of the mission, known as "taxi flight," is to deliver the fresh Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS, where it will serve as a rescue vehicle for the resident crew of the station.

The commander Viktor Afanasiev, flight engineer Konstantin Kazeev and French astronaut Claudie Haigneré onboard Soyuz TM-33 (Number 207) are scheduled to arrive to the ISS on October 23. After spending a week onboard the station, the crew is expected to return to Earth onboard the Soyuz TM-32 spacecraft, which has been docked to the ISS since April. The Soyuz rescue vehicles are certified for missions no longer than six-months, after which they have to be replaced. The safe operation of the Soyuz vehicle is limited primarily by the lifetime of onboard batteries and the degradation cycle of the propellant for the attitude control thrusters in the spacecraft's reentry capsule.

During her week-long stay onboard the ISS, Claudie Haigneré will conduct a number of experiments developed by the countries-members of the European Space Agency, ESA, within the Andromeda program. The mission is conducted under commercial agreement between ESA, French Space Agency, CNES, and Russian Aviation and Space Agency, Rosaviacosmos. A similar agreement will allow an Italian researcher to fly onboard next Soyuz "taxi flight" in April 2002.

Soyuz TM-33 docks with the ISS

October 23: Two days after its launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome, a fresh Soyuz spacecraft linked up with the International Space Station. The docking of the Soyuz TM-33 with the nadir (Earth-facing) port of the Zarya module took place as scheduled at 6:44 a.m. EDT (14:44 Moscow Time). At 8:16 EDT, two Russian cosmonauts and a French researcher, who arrived with the Soyuz, entered the station. Known as "taxi crew," the trio is expected to spend eight days onbard the station in the company of its resident crew, including the American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts.

The Soyuz TM-33 will remain docked at the station, to serve as a lifeboat for the resident crew, while the "taxi crew" will return to Earth onboard the Soyuz TM-32, which has been docked to the ISS since May.

Taxi crew returns to Earth

October 31: After eight days onboard the International Space Station, ISS, a second "taxi crew" successfully returned to Earth. The Soyuz TM-32 with Russian cosmonauts Viktor Afanasiev and Konstantin Kazeev and European researcher Claudie Haigneré undocked from the Pirs Docking Compartment of the station at 4:38:30 Moscow Time (8:38 p.m. EST on Oct. 30) as the spacecraft flew over Eastern Asia near the Russian-Chinese border. The Soyuz then fired its breaking engines at around 07:00 Moscow Time (11 p.m. EST on Oct. 30) to reenter the Earth atmosphere and, shortly after, the habitation module and instrumentation section of the spacecraft separated from the reentry capsule.

The successful landing took place at 07:58 Moscow Time (11:58 EST on Oct. 30) 177 kilometers southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. The region has been routinely used for Soyuz landings.

The Soyuz TM-33 spacecraft, on which "taxi crew" arrived to the station a week ago, will remain docked to the ISS until April 2001. It will serve as a lifeboat for the long-term residents of the station.

Next mission: Soyuz TM-34

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This page is maintained by Anatoly Zak; Last update: May 5, 2012



The Soyuz TM-32 spacecraft docks to the Pirs module of the ISS after undocking from the nadir port of the Zarya module on October 19, 2001, to make room for the arrival of its replacement -- the Soyuz TM-33. Credit: NASA

The crew of the Soyuz TM-33 climbes the stairs leading to the elevator, which brings cosmonauts to the hatch of the spacecraft on top of the Soyuz rocket on the launch pad Number 5 at Site 1 in Baikonur. Credit: CNES

The launch of the Soyuz TM-33. Credit: CNES

The Soyuz TM-33 spacecraft with a Russo-French crew onboard docks to the International Space Station on October 23, 2001. Credit: NASA

The Soyuz TM-32 spacecraft departs the International Space Station with a Russo-French crew onboard on October 31, 2001. Credit: NASA