Can’t stop me now: Tim set for Principia launch
ESA astronaut Tim Peake, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and cosmonaut commander Yuri Malenchenko will leave our planet for the International Space Station 15 December at 11:03 GMT, marking the start of Tim Peake’s Principia mission.
Their Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft will be rolled to the pad in the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, by train from its assembly building two days before launch. Lift off will be from pad 1, the same one used by Sputnik, the first satellite, and Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space.
Today, the trio visited their spacecraft for the second and last time before launch. The next time they see their van-sized vehicle it will be sitting 40 m up on 274 tonnes of rocket fuel.
On launch day Tim, Tim and Yuri will suit up four hours before their afternoon ascent. They will enter their craft at around 08:33 GMT.
Delivering 26 million horse-power, their Soyuz rocket will carry them 1640 km downrange and lift them 210 km above our planet in 10 minutes.
The trip to the Space Station should take only six hours, orbiting Earth four times as they catch up with the outpost flying at 28 800 km/h. The trio have a backup itinerary of two days that mission controllers can call on if necessary.
The spacecraft will dock with the Earth-facing port of the Russian Rassvet module at around 17:23 GMT. Astronauts on both sides will ensure there are no leaks before opening the hatches around 90 minutes later.
The new arrivals will float to the Russian Zvezda module to talk to their family and friends on Earth in a public event. They will also enjoy their first meal in space – it will have been 12 hours since setting off in Baikonur on their voyage.
It is a busy time at the orbiting research complex: the US Cygnus supply vessel was berthed yesterday and three astronauts return to Earth on 11 December.
Watch the Principia launch, docking and press conference live on the ESA website. A more detailed timeline is available on ESA’s Principia blog. Follow Tim Peake and his Principia mission via timpeake.esa.int