Rocket Assembly

Close to the launch pad, there is a large building where the different parts of the Soyuz launch vehicle are put together, with each having been transported from it’s respective factory. The different engines (or stages) are assembled, the faring (that covers the spacecraft during launch) is prepared, the launch escape system is added.

At the same time the crew makes final inspection of the spacecraft, and their belongings are packed inside, before the spacecraft is mated to the rocket.


Quarantine and Pre-flight Ceremonies

Two weeks before launch the crew fly from Moscow to Baikonur where they enter quarantine along with various members of support staff. The purpose of quarantine is to ensure they remain fit and healthy for launch day and do not take any infections or sickness to the International Space Station.

While in quarantine final pre-flight preparations are made, along with a number of traditional ceremonies – many of which date back to Yuri Gagarin’s flight and the beginning of human spaceflight.

Rocket Roll-out

Approximately two days before the launch the fully assembled rocket with the spacecraft inside the faring, is transported by train to the launch pad, where it is raised to vertical and placed on the launch pad.

Launch Day

The day of launch really begins about 4 hours before the launch, with the astronauts leaving their “hotel” and making their way to the launch site. There is a final press conference, and they put on their spacesuits, before proceeding to the rocket. There are a number of customs and traditions along the way!