Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 283

Soyuz TMA-03M



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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  21.12.2011
Launch time:  13:16:14.190 UTC
Launch site:  Baikonur
Launch pad:  1
Altitude:  391 - 406 km
Inclination:  51.64°
Docking ISS:  23.12.2011, 15:19:14 UTC
Undocking ISS:  01.07.2012, 04:47:43 UTC
Landing date:  01.07.2012
Landing time:  08:14:41.2 UTC
Landing site:  47°20'56,3"N 69°32'47,4"E

walkout photo

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alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

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No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Kononenko  Oleg Dmitriyevich  Commander 2 192d 18h 58m 28s  3007 
2  Kuipers  André  Flight Engineer 2 192d 18h 58m 28s  3007 
3  Pettit  Donald Roy  Flight Engineer 3 192d 18h 58m 28s  3007 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Kononenko
2  Kuipers
3  Pettit
1  Kononenko
2  Kuipers
3  Pettit

Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Malenchenko  Yuri Ivanovich  Commander
2  Williams  Sunita Lyn "Suni"  Flight Engineer
3  Hoshide  Akihiko  Flight Engineer

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alternate crew photo

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Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Landing 146 km southeast of Dzheskasgan. ISS Expedition 30 / 31.

Following a two day solo flight Soyuz TMA-03M docked to ISS on December 23, 2011. Oleg Kononenko, André Kuipers and Donald Pettit became the ISS Expedition 30 (together with ISS Expedition 29 crew members Daniel Burbank, Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoli Ivanishin).

The Soyuz spacecraft is composed of three elements attached end-to-end - the Orbital Module, the Descent Module and the Instrumentation/Propulsion Module. The crew occupied the central element, the Descent Module. The other two modules are jettisoned prior to re-entry. They burn up in the atmosphere, so only the Descent Module returned to Earth.
Having shed two-thirds of its mass, the Soyuz reached Entry Interface - a point 400,000 feet (121.9 kilometers) above the Earth, where friction due to the thickening atmosphere began to heat its outer surfaces. With only 23 minutes left before it lands on the grassy plains of central Asia, attention in the module turned to slowing its rate of descent.
Eight minutes later, the spacecraft was streaking through the sky at a rate of 755 feet (230 meters) per second. Before it touched down, its speed slowed to only 5 feet (1.5 meter) per second, and it lands at an even lower speed than that. Several onboard features ensure that the vehicle and crew land safely and in relative comfort.
Four parachutes, deployed 15 minutes before landing, dramatically slowed the vehicle's rate of descent. Two pilot parachutes were the first to be released, and a drogue chute attached to the second one followed immediately after. The drogue, measuring 24 square meters (258 square feet) in area, slowed the rate of descent from 755 feet (230 meters) per second to 262 feet (80 meters) per second.
The main parachute was the last to emerge. It is the largest chute, with a surface area of 10,764 square feet (1,000 square meters). Its harnesses shifted the vehicle's attitude to a 30-degree angle relative to the ground, dissipating heat, and then shifted it again to a straight vertical descent prior to landing.
The main chute slowed the Soyuz to a descent rate of only 24 feet (7.3 meters) per second, which is still too fast for a comfortable landing. One second before touchdown, two sets of three small engines on the bottom of the vehicle fired, slowing the vehicle to soften the landing.

Graphics / Photos



Last update on April 20, 2018.