Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2003 April 28
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Rollout of a Soyuz TMA-2 Aboard an R7 Rocket
Credit: Scott Andrews, NASA

Explanation: It takes a big rocket to go into space. Last weekend, this huge Russian rocket was launched toward Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS), carrying two astronauts who will make up the new Expedition 7 crew. Seen here during rollout at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the rocket's white top is actually a Soyuz TMA-2, the most recent version of the longest serving type of human spacecraft. The base is a Russian R7 rocket, originally developed as a prototype Intercontinental Ballistic Missile in 1957. The rocket spans the width of a football field and has a fueled mass of about half a million kilograms. Russian rockets like this will be primary transportation system to the ISS while NASA studies the underlying reasons behind the recent tragic break-up of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

Tomorrow's picture: Heart of the Rose

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