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Soyuz 4 Taxi Flight Crew

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IMAGE: The Soyuz 4 Taxi Flight Crew onboard the space station.
From left are, Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko, European astronaut and Flight Engineer Roberto Vittori and South African space flight participant Mark Shuttleworth.

Soyuz CommanderYuri Gidzenko (Rosaviakosmos)Interview
Flight EngineerRoberto Vittori (ESA)Interview (N/A)
Space Flight ParticipantMark Shuttleworth Interview (N/A)

A multinational crew including a former Expedition crew member, an Italian astronaut and a South African businessman launched to the International Space Station (or ISS) on April 25, 2002 at 1:27 a.m. CST (0627 GMT). Once their, they conducted joint operations with the Expedition Four crew, performed educational and science activities and traded Soyuz space vehicles.

The Expedition Four crew poses with Soyuz 4 Taxi Flight crew inside the International Space Station.
The Expedition Four crew poses with Soyuz 4 Taxi Flight crew (in front) inside the International Space Station.

The Taxi crew rocketed from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, to deliver a fresh Soyuz spacecraft to the station for use as a lifeboat. The brand new Soyuz TM-34 spacecraft docked to the space station on April 27, 2002 at 2:56 a.m. CST (0756 GMT). About an hour-and-a-half later the hatches swung open between the Soyuz and the ISS. The Soyuz 4 crew exchanged seat liners from the just arrived Soyuz to the six-month old Soyuz TM-33 they would ride home in. After the Expedition Four crew briefed the visiting crew on safety issues, they began nearly eight days of docked operations.

Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko, on his third mission to space, is the first member of an Expedition crew to revisit the station. Gidzenko was a flight engineer during Expedition One, the first resident crew to live and work aboard the orbital outpost. Making his first flight, Roberto Vittori, an Italian astronaut representing the Italian Space Agency and working for the European Space Agency, launched as a flight engineer for the Soyuz crew. Under contract with Rosaviakosmos and representing South Africa as a space flight participant was businessman Mark Shuttleworth, also on his first flight.

Space flight participant Mark Shuttleworth was the second private individual to pay for a mission to space. While onboard the outpost, Shuttleworth spoke to South African president Thabo Mbeki, Nobel Peace laureate Nelson Mandela and students from Bishops College in Cape Town. The entrepreneur also brought onboard several science experiments that kept him busy each day during the mission.

Wrapping up their mission to the orbital outpost, the Soyuz 4 crew entered the Soyuz TM-33 docked since October of 2001. At 7:31 p.m. CST (1231 GMT, May 5) on May 4, 2002 they undocked from the Pirs Docking Compartment with Soyuz Commander Yuri Gidzenko firing the engines separating their vehicle from the ISS. Gidzenko then conducted a four-minute deorbit burn beginning a descent toward Earth with the crew landing in Kazakhstan at around 10:52 p.m. CST (0452 GMT, May 5) the same night.

Crew Time in Orbit

How does this work?

The Italian patch for the Soyuz 4 Taxi Flight designated Marco Polo for Roberto Vitorri.

The Italian Space Agency created a patch specifically representing astronaut Roberto Vittori and his contribution to the Soyuz Four Taxi Flight.

Mission Overview
Mission:Soyuz 4 Taxi Flight
Soyuz TM-34
Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan
Launch: April 25, 2002
1:27 a.m. CST
Docking:April 27, 2002
2:56 a.m. CST
Soyuz TM-33
Undocking:May 4, 2002
7:31 p.m. CST
Landing:May 4, 2002
10:52 p.m. CST
Related Links
*Soyuz 4 Taxi Crew Visits JSC
*Soyuz 4 Taxi Flight Crew Images
*Expedition Four Crew
*Image Chronology of the
ISS Assembly Sequence

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 07/03/2002
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