Astronauts sit in seats worse than coach on journeys to the International Space Station (ISS). A video released by the European Space Agency (ESA) on Monday proves it.
It shows the launch earlier this month of Soyuz MS-09 from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Interior cameras offer a view of NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Roscosmos commander Sergei Prokopyev, and ESA astronaut and flight engineer Alexander Gerst cooped up inside the Soyuz spacecraft as it heads toward the space-based outpost.
The video also includes the first-ever shots from cameras fixed to the exterior of the 50-meter-tall Soyuz rocket.
“The intense launch lasts less than 10 minutes whereby the Soyuz spacecraft is propelled 1640 km (1020 miles) and gains 210 km (130 miles) altitude,” ESA said in notes accompanying the video. “Every second for nine minutes, the spacecraft accelerates 50 km/h (31 mph) on average as the rocket’s boosters burn their fuel and are discarded.”
As the astronauts experience forces of up to 4g (four times Earth’s pull), the Soyuz commander uses a stick to press buttons on the control panel as it’s too far to reach with his hand. The bags above their heads are full of supplies for the ISS, with ESA noting that “every bit of space is used” aboard the tiny spacecraft.
Oh, and you may be wondering what those little furry toys are doing there, dangling in front of the astronauts. Besides acting as mascots and good luck charms, they also offer an easy way for the crew to see when the spacecraft is in orbit, as they’ll start floating about in the weightless conditions. You can see it happen toward the end of the video.
It was a textbook launch, with the Soyuz rocket propelling the astronauts to their cruising speed of around 28,800 km/h (17,895 mph).
But it was a challenging trip for the trio as they had to spend two days stuck inside the spacecraft as it orbited Earth a total of 34 times before arriving at the space station on Friday, June 8.
A faster 4-orbit/6-hour or a 2-orbit/3-hour journey is usually possible, but space station positioning requirements to ensure a daytime landing for the departing Soyuz MS-07 crew earlier in the launch week prevented the possibility of a speedier trip for the new crew, SpaceFlight.com reported.
Below are the key moments of the launch, with timings shown according to the timestamp at the bottom right of the video:
-00:12 Launch command issued
-00:10 Engine turbopumps at flight speed
-00:05 Engines at maximum thrust
+1:54 Separation of emergency rescue system
+1:57 First stage separation
+2:38 Fairing separation
+4:48 Second stage separation
+4:58 Tail adapter separation
+8:45 Third stage engine cut off having arrived in orbit
+8:49 Soyuz separation, deploy solar arrays and antennae