A Russian Guide to Wednesday's Союз Старт (Soyuz Launch)
On Wednesday afternoon, the next trio of International Space Station residents will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Soyuz TMA-10M is scheduled to lift off at 4:58 p.m. EDT (20:58 UTC, 2:58 a.m. Thursday Kazakh time), carrying Oleg Kotov, Sergey Ryazanskiy and Michael Hopkins into orbit for a six-hour journey to the orbital outpost.
Ryazanskiy and Hopkins are rookies. Kotov is a veteran, having first visited the station with current commander Fyodor Yurchikhi for Expedition 15 in 2007. In 2009, Kotov returned for Expedition 22, and became the commander of Expedition 23 in 2010.
If you watch live on NASA TV, you’ll typically hear three sets of voices: Russian communications between the ground and Soyuz, an interpreter, and a NASA Public Affairs Officer. NASA PAOs do a great job of narrating launches, relying on interpreters and launch guides to keep everything straight.
Interpreter Elena Kozhukov, whom I profiled in July, has generously helped put together a guide to common Russian launch phrases. You'll want to listen for the English transliterations. Some of the literal translations are rooted in military terminology, so an English explanation is also given.
Here's to a smooth Подъем!
English literal translation
Time to launch (m:s)
Ключ на старт
Klyuch na start
Key to launch
Launch key inserted (yes, it’s a real key)
Tape feed 1
Ground measurement system is activated by RUN 1 command
Combustion chambers of side and central engine pods purged with nitrogen
Booster propellant tank pressurization initiated
Tape feed 2
Onboard measurement system is activated by RUN 2 command
Vehicle oxidizer and fuel drain and safety valves closed, ground oxidizer and nitrogen filling terminated
Vehicle to internal power, separation of third stage umbilical tower from booster
Launch command issued for ignition, central and side pod engines turned on
Second stage umbilical tower separates
Engine turbopumps at flight speed
First stage engines at maximum thrust
Fueling tower separation
NASA / Carla Cioffi
Soyuz TMA-10M sits atop its rocket in Baikonur, Kazahkstan following rollout on September 23, 2013. The letters Союз TMA (Soyuz TMA) are stamped on the capsule's payload fairing.