back to article Mighty Soyuz stands proud at Baikonur

The Soyuz TMA-20M which will tomorrow transport 'nauts Jeff Williams, Oleg Skripochka and Alexei Ovchinin to the International Space Station is standing ready to roll on launch pad 1 at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. As is the Russian custom, the lifter was prepared in a horizontal position*, trundled to the pad and …

  1. Alister Silver badge

    Horizontal assembly

    Does preparing the payload and rocket horizontally mean that it has to be constructed in a more robust manner though, to withstand the off-centre loads whilst laid down, and the strain of lifting it to the vertical?

    1. Mike Shepherd

      Re: Horizontal assembly

      I'd guess that, compared to the stress of launching, these extra loads are small. Also, a lot of the weight is fuel, probably loaded after erection.

      1. sideshowdan

        Re: Horizontal assembly


      2. Alister Silver badge

        Re: Horizontal assembly

        @Mike Shepherd.

        I agree that compared to take-off loads any forces will be small, but whilst all space launch vehicles are designed to withstand those launch forces vertically, I'm not so sure about sideways loads.

        Would current US launch vehicles (for example) withstand the off-centre forces of installing the payload with the craft horizontal, or would that have to be built in as extra?

      3. Asterix the Gaul

        Re: Horizontal assembly

        "probably loaded after erection".

        I always imagined,according to the laws of physics,that the load is 'shed' on 'erection'?

        Mm!,it must be my fertile imagination running riot again,lol.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Horizontal assembly

      It has the advantage of making rattling noises when put upright so you know there's a spanner or engineer left in there.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Horizontal assembly

        It has the advantage of making rattling noises when put upright so you know there's a spanner or engineer left in there.

        Wouldn't the engineer sound more like "ow!...thump!..ow!..thump!" ?

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: Horizontal assembly

          It depends what s/he has in his pockets.

    3. kmac499

      Re: Horizontal assembly

      Laying'em flat makes it a whole lot easier to modify the 'production line' to handle different sizes of rockets as well.

      Classic Russian approach to engineering, keep it simple and strong.

      (BTW The US used to build some of it's ICBMs like this )

      1. Lars Silver badge

        Re: Horizontal assembly

        There was actually a link for this.

        "Officials said the preliminary plan calls for the Ariane 6 rocket to be integrated horizontally, a practice long used for Russian launchers and more recently adopted by United Launch Alliance’s Delta 4 rocket family and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.".

  2. Pete4000uk

    What a workhorse

    Another launch? They sure do knock 'em out

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: What a workhorse

      “We are turning out missiles like sausages from an automatic machine, rocket after rocket.”

      - Nikita Khrushchev, New York, October 1960 (shortly after the meeting of the United Nations)

      (Off by 60 years, but what the hell.)

  3. chivo243 Silver badge

    Middle Naut

    he looks like he doesn't want to go, or is that a Russian smile? The other two are smiling...

    1. AdamT

      Re: Middle Naut

      Based on in interview with him in a documentary I saw (that was actually more about Tim Peake) it appears that he does have a pretty good sense of humour but that it is very, very, ... very ... dry indeed. Whether that is representative of Russians in general or Cosmonauts in particular, I couldn't say.

      1. Dom 3

        Re: Middle Naut

        Just google "russian smiling". Explains everything.

        1. Unep Eurobats

          Re: Middle Naut

          I thought the glum expression was because he was the only one who knew they were going to have to dock manually ... with him at the controls.

    2. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Middle Naut

      I suppose pronouncing cheese in Russian keeps your mouth shut. Or to be a bit serious, which is hard, a cultural thing. Looking back I don't think you will find that many people posing mouth open.Try the Royal family from the past. I would feel a bit stupid walking around with my mouth open for the draft. Blame Hollywood and look at Rubio, on occasions he forgot to show his teeth and then he suddenly remembered it.

      1. Mike Shepherd

        Re: Middle Naut

        It's simple. Russians don't have the habit of forcing a smile for politeness (and sometimes consider it bizarre). But some cultures are so accustomed to fake smiles (e.g. on greeting) that they consider them "natural", to the extent that you can read articles about why Russians "don't" smile.

        1. TheManCalledStan

          Re: Middle Naut

          That's very much their public face.

          However, if you are fortunate enough to be invited to a Russian's home then things are very different.

          They are incredibly hospitable and cheerful in their home environment, with the table soon laden with food, fruit juices and drink.

  4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Never ceases to impress, these spacecraft. I was at a Space Museum in Samara in 2013, where they have a full scale Soyuz outside the entrance (you walk in under the engines). Very, very impressive indeed.

    Where's that glass of vodka to raise?

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      If I'd build a space museum, people would walk in THROUGH the engines... Wait, they don't seem to be quite large enough. Never mind, then mount them vertically and LIFT people up through (much smaller section) on an elevator! Yesss!

    2. Lars Silver badge

      "that glass of vodka". Reminds me of a cousin of mine who had to go to Russia to help them to assemble some machinery. Then there was a big party and at some time having had enough vodka he decided to hide his glass behind his back. In no time there was this gluc gluc sound behind his back as somebody was filling up his glass.

  5. Andy The Hat Silver badge


    And to give a sense of scale, here's Tim Peake and colleagues standing in front of those massive engines.

    Unfortunately the humans are what is known as "very close" and the engines can be referred to as "far away". So, for a sense of scale, ignore the picture entirely then consider that the first stage is bigger than a blue whale and the humans are normal human sized (I assume ...)

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      Unfortunately the humans are what is known as "very close" and the engines can be referred to as "far away".

      "OK, one last time, Dougal. These are small… but the ones out there are far away. Small… far away…"

  6. hplasm Silver badge

    ...and the humans are normal human sized (I assume ...)

    No, they're astro(cosmonauts) so bigger than normal, by default, being engorged with the Right Stuff!

    (Not actually larger...physically.)

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: ...and the humans are normal human sized (I assume ...)

      Well, since you've brought it up... see #6 in this list.

  7. Herby Silver badge


    Give me a nice Saturn 5 any day. Puts others to shame!

    1. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

      Alternative others?

      > Give me a nice Saturn 5 any day. Puts others to shame!

      What others?

      The slave labour that the US designers used... ah wait they used Nazi war criminals not slave labour. So who were the blokes that ran gasket goo around the concrete rings they built the errrrmmm someone remind me what did they use Loctite gasket goo on?

      It can't be rocket science...

      Or do you mean significan't others?

  8. phuzz Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Thanks for a couple of new desktop backgrounds elReg :)

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Thank the NASA snapper - a fine job

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