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7 Oct, 2010 07:09

Russia to make record number of space launches in 2010

Regardless of the incident with the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft, which was damaged while being transported by train to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Russia will fulfill all 12 projected space flights by the end of the year.

The Soyuz TMS-20 spacecraft was severely damaged due to an improper transportation regime. One of the brackets used to secure the vessel inside the transportation capsule came loose and the Soyuz crashed to the floor, deforming the re-entry vehicle that will now most likely be replaced with another one taken from Soyuz TMA-21.

In 2010, Russia will fulfill 34 space launches, which is more than in 2009, when 32 rockets blasted to space from Baikonur Cosmodrome and the northern cosmodrome in Plesetsk. To date, 42 launches have been made worldwide this year, of which 22 were Russian.

Last year’s 32 launches were preceded by 27 in 2008 and 26 in 2007.

The next launch will be on October 8 from Baikonur, where the vast Kazakh steppes are about to witness the latest achievements of the space industry roaring off into the heavens.

On Friday, the next crew of the International Space Station will travel into orbit in a brand new Soyuz capsule, equipped with cutting-edge technology.

Soyuz rockets will soon be planet Earth’s only link with the International Space Station, which flies over 300 kilometers above.

For decades they have been launched from the renowned launch site at Baikonur, in the middle of the steppe in Kazakhstan

At a press conference Aleksandr Kaleri, commander of the next expedition to ISS, noted that “When you go to the start you’ll see the monument to the conquerors of space. On it is written, in this place the genius of Soviet man was revealed in an instant in the conquering of the cosmos. I think you can’t say better than that about Baikonur.”

And the vast concentration of technology there has just become even more advanced.

The new Soyuz spacecraft has improved and digitized control, power supply and temperature control systems.

But one thing has not changed – the humans flying Soyuz missions.

The crew, like those before them, have been training for years for their six month stint on the ISS.

The two Russians and one American know that in English, “soyuz” means “unity”, and the international nature of their mission.

“You know, personalities and that, we’re not very easily excitable and deal with things in a very calm and quiet way so I think we’re going to have a very good working relationship on board the space station because I think we have the same kind of temperament, all three of us,” Scott Kelly, a crew member, said.

Amazingly Scott will have family coming to visit him on his mission.

His brother Mark is also an astronaut and will lead the last US shuttle mission to the ISS.

They will be the first twins in space.

“We’ve occasionally flown together in the Navy as test pilots, but before that I think it was working in dairy queen when we were 12 years old, mopping the floors. That was probably the last job we really had where we worked together,” remembers Mark Kelly.

The lonely launch platform in the wind blasted desert might seem like an odd place to pursue the most advanced of human endeavors. But for the past 55 years now it’s been doing just that. From a distance the rocket looks much the same as the first one launched years ago, but after years of improvement and preparation this mission plans to push the final frontier that bit further.