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Previous mission: Soyuz TMA-15

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The Soyuz TMA-16 (No. 226) was scheduled for launch to the International Space Station, ISS, on September 30, 2009. The spacecraft would remain docked to the outpost until March 2010, in support of the Expedition 21 crew. In ISS nomenclature the mission was known as 20S and was often wrongly referred to in open NASA publications as Soyuz-20.

Expedition 21 crewmembers:

NASA officially named members of Expedition 21 on November 21, 2008:

Name Status
Primary crew
Maksim Suraev Flight engineer Roskosmos -
Jeffrey Williams Flight Engineer (Expedition 21) NASA Serves as commander of Expedition 22;
Guy Laliberté tourist private up only; returns onboard Soyuz Soyuz TMA-14;

Last tourist mission

The Soyuz TMA-16 became the last Russian orbital launch with a seat available for a space tourist. After that flight, all seats onboard Soyuz would be needed to rotate six-member crews of the ISS. At various times, Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov and a prominent member of the Russian Duma (parliament) Vladimir Gruzdev were named as candidates for the available seat onboard Soyuz TMA-16. However, both ultimately bowed out due to lack of cash.

Only on May 29, 2009, just four months before a scheduled launch of the Soyuz TMA-16, Roskosmos announced that another candidate would be named at the beginning of June. According to the agency representative, the candidate for the mission was already in Russia undergoing medical checks necessary to qualify him for the flight and his name would be announced on June 4, 2009. On June 1, 2009, Space Adventures, the company which markets Soyuz seats to wealthy individuals, disclosed that a Canadian entrepreneur would take the third seat onboard Soyuz TMA-16. On June 4, Space Adventures announced that Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil, has begun training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City.

Expedition 21/22 milestones (according to NASA, as of September 2009):

Oct. 2: Soyuz TMA-16 to dock to the aft port of the Zvezda service module and its crew would join Expedition 20 for a total of nine crew members on the station for nine days.

Oct. 11: Soyuz TMA-14 to undock from Pirs Docking Compartment with Padalka, Barratt and Laliberte onboard.

Oct. 17: Progress cargo ship (Mission 35P) to dock to the Pirs Docking Compartment.

Oct. 30: Japan's HTV cargo ship to undock from nadir docking port of the Harmony node module.

Nov. 10: Mini-Reasearch Module-2 (MIM-2) to launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Nov. 12: Mini-Reasearch Module-2 (MIM-2) to dock to the zenith port of the Zvezda service module.

Nov. 12: Space Shuttle Atlantis to start the STS-129/ULF3 mission with the launch from the Kennedy Space center.

Nov. 14: Space Shuttle Atlantis to dock to the PMA-2 module.

Nov. 21: Space Shuttle Atlantis to undock from the PMA-2 module.

Nov. 23: Space Shuttle Atlantis to land at the end of the STS-129/ULF3 mission.

Russia sends fresh crew to station

Fulfilling its promise to support an increased crew of the International Space Station, ISS, Russia launched a third manned mission of 2009 Wednesday.

It is the first time in many years, Russia sent more than two crews into space in a single year.

The launch of the Soyuz rocket with the Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft took place on Sept. 30, 2009, at 11:14:42 Moscow Summer Time from Baikonur Cosmodrome's Site 1. Onboard are Russian Commander Maksim Suraev, NASA flight engineer Jeffrey Williams and a space tourist from Canada Guy Laliberté.

Russian mission control confirmed that the Soyuz-TMA-16 reached its intended orbit successfully and all its antennas and solar panels had deployed some ten minutes after the liftoff. The docking of the spacecraft with the sation was scheduled for Friday.

One more manned launch was expected before the end of 2009. A total of four Russian launches per year would allow maintaining a six-man crew onboard the station virtually permanently with at least two three-seat Soyuz spacecraft, serving as a lifeboat, docked to the outpost at all times in six-month shifts.


After a two-day autonomous flight, the Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft successfully docked to the aft port of the Zvezda service module on the International Space Station on Oct. 2, 2009 at 12:35:07 Moscow Time. Hatches between the spacecraft and the station were opened at 14:57 Moscow Time.


Two members of the International Space Station’s Expedition 22 crew successfully delivered the Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft to its new location on the morning, January 21, 2010.

Soyuz Commander and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev undocked the spacecraft from the aft port of the Zvezda service module at 5:03 a.m. EST and docked it to the Poisk (MIM-2) module at 5:24 a.m., marking the first docking to the new module. Expedition 22 Commander Jeff Williams accompanied Suraev.

While Suraev and Williams conducted the brief flyover to Poisk, Flight Engineers Oleg Kotov, T.J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi looked on from inside the orbital outpost and captured the activity through photo-documentation.

On Jan. 14, Suraev and Kotov set up Poisk for the Soyuz relocation and future dockings during the first spacewalk of the Expedition 22 mission, which lasted five hours and 44 minutes.

Once the Soyuz was moved to its new home, the station crew members returned to their regular science and maintenance duties. They also kept up their daily exercise routine, which helps their bodies combat the effects of long-term exposure to the microgravity environment of space.

On Jan. 23, Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer and Williams were scheduled to use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to relocate Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 from the port side of the Unity node to the space-facing side of the Harmony node. This will clear the way for the installation of the Italian-built Tranquility node to be delivered by space shuttle Endeavour and the STS-130 crew in February 2010.

Tranquility is a pressurized module that will provide room for many of the space station's life support systems. Attached to the node is the Cupola, a one-of-a-kind work station with six windows around the sides and one on top.

Amongst the Soyuz relocation preparations on Jan. 20, 2010, the crew had some time scheduled for Earth observation and photography. On January 20, selected site for observation was the Haiti disaster area.

Water recycling on the station has been temporarily suspended. Until the week of Jan. 17, 2010, the station’s Water Recovery System was able to reclaim water from the station’s atmosphere even though the urine recycling system wasn’t working. But in the second half of January 2010, the Water Processing Assembly was turned off because of a clog in its plumbing. In the meantime, the crew is using water from storage bags to feed the Oxygen Generation System, the Waste and Hygiene Compartment toilet and the drinking water dispenser. A spare pump and a new filter will be installed during the upcoming shuttle mission, which should put the water processor back in business and protect against future clogs. In addition, a new Distillation Assembly is scheduled for launch on the STS-130 mission and is expected to restore urine recycling.


After 169 days in space, Expedition 22 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev have completed their mission. They parachuted to a landing in their Soyuz TMA-16 descent module on March 18, 2010, 14:25 Moscow Time (11:25 GMT, 7:25 a.m. EDT), north-east of the town of Arkalyk in Kazakhstan.

Staying behind are Flight Engineers Soichi Noguchi and T.J. Creamer and new Expedition 23 Commander Oleg Kotov. Expedition 23 officially began its increment when Williams and Suraev undocked from the Poisk Mini-Research Module on March 18, 2010, at 11:03:03 Moscow Time. According to the plan, a 256.4-second deorbiting burn was to begin on the same day at 13:33:00 Moscow Time. The trio, who will stay until June, joined Williams and Suraev after arriving in their Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft in December 2009.

Joining Expedition 23 and expanding the station crew to six will be Alexander Skvortsov, Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Mikhail Kornienko. They were to arrive in the Soyuz TMA-18 on April 4, 2010.

Next mission: Soyuz TMA-17

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

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The Soyuz TMA-16 crew. Left to right: NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams, Russian cosmonaut Maksim Suraev, a space tourist Guy Laliberté. Click to enlarge. Credit: RKK Energia


Soyuz TMA-16 lands on March 18, 2010. Credit: NASA