Russia’s storied Soyuz-U rocket completed its final launch with the delivery of a Progress MS-05 cargo craft to the International Space Station (ISS).
Spaceflight Insider reports that the Soyuz-U lifted off on Feb. 22 from the launch site affectionately known as Gagarin’s Start at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Gagarin’s Start is the launch pad from which ventured the first human, Yuri Gagarin, to travel into space.
After travelling for nine minutes into space, the Progress ship separated from the Soyuz and entered into a two-day span of orbits to draw closer to the ISS. The cargo craft is delivering about 5,400 pounds of supplies, including food, equipment and propellant. The craft will remain attached to the station until June.
This resupply mission marks the first successful Progress launch from Baikonur since a Progress supply ship was lost to launch failure last December. The failed launch was caused by a malfunction in a Soyuz-U rocket’s second stage, and the craft was lost before reaching orbit.
The Soyuz-U design is based on the historic R-7 rocket design. The Soyuz-U stands 167.7 feet high and sports four strap-on boosters, each of which can produce 188,502 pounds of thrust.
The Soyuz-U first launched in May 1973 and has been the world’s longest-serving rocket. During its tenure, the Soyuz-U completed 786 launches and 765 successful missions. In 1979, the Soyuz-U set the record for the highest launch rate for any orbital-class rocket when it launched 47 times on one year.
The venerable rocket has been replaced by the Soyuz-2, which has a similar design, and the Soyuz-FG, which is rated for transporting crew capsules.