The flight itself Ã‚Â— launched from the same pad that sent Yuri Gagarin and Sputnik into space Ã‚Â— seemed flawless. The spacecraft lifted off within seconds of its scheduled departure and delivered its crew into orbit about 10 minutes later.
Russia`s space scientists and engineers, who struggled for over a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, seem to have made the risky and dramatic business of sending people into orbit almost routine.
`Everything goes like Swiss watches` on Soyuz flights, said Christian Feichtinger, who has witnessed a number of launches at the Baikonur Cosmodrome as head of the European Space Agency`s Moscow office.
A zipper broke on Tuesday on the space suit of Sergei Volkov, 35, the commander of the Soyuz mission, but the suit passed a pressure test and he was cleared for flight.
The Soyuz spacecraft is scheduled to deliver Volkov, cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, 43, and Yi So-yeon, a 29-year-old South Korean bioengineer, to the international space station on Thursday.
Despite the seeming routine, the sight of the 164-feet-high rocket arcing through the cloudless sky still stirred deep emotions.
Text and Images: AP
Image Caption:South Korea`s first astronaut Yi So-yeon, top, and Russian cosmonauts, commander Sergei Volkov, bottom, and flight engineer Oleg Kononenko, centre, crew members of the 17th mission to the International Space Station (ISS), gesture prior the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on Tuesday, April 8, 2008. The Soyuz was launched in the evening with Yi, Volkov and Kononenko on board. It will be the first space flight for all including Volkov, the 34-year-old son of a Soviet-era cosmonaut.