On October 12, the ILS team was invited to watch the Soyuz launch from one of the VIP locations. From the VIP area, we were able to observe the press conference and see the launch crew before they boarded the rocket. At 1:01 pm, local time, the Soyuz spacecraft with two Americans and a Russian on board lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

The sky was extremely clear as the rocket carrying American millionaire Richard Garriott, U.S. astronaut Michael Fincke and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov soared into space. We were told that the craft entered orbit about 10 minutes later.

They let us take as many pictures as we wanted. We were so close that you could feel the ground move. It was awesome!

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