Soyuz Rockets

A Soyuz rocket launches from Kazakhstan
Credit: NASA

Soyuz rockets are designed and manufactured in Russia. They transport astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), in manned and unmanned missions.  Soyuz rockets are also used by commercial companies, as they are low cost but very reliable. The rockets use liquid oxygen fuel.

The first rocket was introduced in 1966, in Kazakhstan near Russia. By the 1980s, 60 rockets per year were being produced. Soyuz rockets have been used over 1700 times - far more than any other rocket in the world.

After launch, the rocket separates from the capsule, which holds the astronauts and the supplies. The rocket returns to Earth, and the capsule continues upwards, reaching space in only 9 minutes. The Soyuz capsule takes 6 hours to reach the ISS.

At the ISS, the Soyuz capsule docks, and the astronauts use a hatch to go inside. When the astronauts return to Earth, they use the Soyuz capsule again. It drops through the Earth's atmosphere and slows down, and then deploys parachutes to slow it down even further. The astronauts experience a bumpy landing in Kazakhstan, 3.5 hours after leaving the ISS.