Human Space Launch
Orbital Human Space Launch
Russia increased in its human spaceflight operations significantly in 2009 by doubling the launch rate of its Soyuz spacecraft. Russia had been launching Soyuz missions twice a year, roughly six months apart, to support three-person crews on the ISS. In 2009, Russia launched four Soyuz missions, each carrying three people. This increased flight rate reflects the transition to six-person ISS crews now that the station can accommodate its full crew complement. Once the Space Shuttle is retired, Soyuz will be the sole provider of ISS crew transfers until an alternative system is in place. The four Soyuz flights in 2009 also carried two private spaceflight participants on trips arranged by U.S. company Space Adventures.
The Space Shuttle, also known as the Space Transportation System (STS), consists of an active fleet of three orbiters: Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour. The Shuttles are the United States’ primary method of transferring crew, supplies, and new modules to the ISS.