Soyuz: The workhorse of Soviet and later Russian space flight means 'union' in Russian, as written here in cyrillic. As any UAE resident will know, the Arabic for union is etihad, the name chosen for the UAE national airline and other landmarks. So Etihad and Soyuz are the same. Andrey Shelepin / Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre
Seats and suits: Each astronaut has a tailor-made seat for their body size and shape. Since astronauts usually return to Earth in a different Soyuz than the one they arrived in, the seats are taken out once inside the space station and switched to the other craft before reentry. Courtesy: Dubai Media Office
Escape: If there an emergency on launch, explosive bolts separate the Soyuz spaceship from the main rocket and the capsule is blasted away from danger. Astronauts are carried to a safe altitude so the parachutes on the capsule can deploy.
It was used in 1983 when the rocket carrying Soyuz T-10a caught fire on the launch pad. As fire and flames engulfed the rocket, caught on television cameras, the capsule blasted off and landed safely 6km away.
A similar system was deployed in October 2018 when a Soyuz carrying Alexey Ovchinin and Nick Hague aborted after 114 seconds. The capsule was found about 400km away, with both astronauts safe.
Cold as ice: When it is taken to the launchpad by train, the Soyuz rocket is green. But when it takes off, it is completely white. What’s with the new paint job? In fact, the liquid oxygen and kerosene fuel is so cold, the rocket is covered in a coating of frost. Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP
Rocket boosters: The rocket boosters have the nickname “markovka”, Russian for carrots, because they resemble the root vegetable. Maxim Shipenkov / EPA
Ready for blast-off: The launchpad for the Soyuz mission is called Gagarin’s Start. It was from here, on April 12, 1961, that Yuri Gagarin took off on Vostok 1 to become the first person in space. Wednesday's launch will be the last time the pad is used as it cannot accommodate the new generation of Soyuz rockets coming into service. Pictured in the blast zone area is reserve astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi two days before the launch. Maxim Shipenko / Reuters
Electrifying: You’ll see what looks like four telecommunications towers around the launchpad. These are lightning conductors. The last thing anyone needs is a rocket filled with 300 tonnes of highly explosive fuel being struck by lightning. Maxim Shipenkov / EPA
Edge of space: The boundary of space is defined by what is known as the Karman Line, named after a Hungarian physicist and engineer, Theodore von Karman, who calculated it at 100 kilometres. It’s where Earth’s atmosphere stops. Nasa
Search and rescue: Russia deploys a fleet of about 20 search and rescue aircraft in case of an emergency return to Earth. They must cover a huge area, from Kazakhstan, right across Siberia to the port of Vladivostok and the Sea of Japan, where a ship is also stationed - a distance of more than 8,000 kilometres. Pictured is Randy Bresnik being from the capsule after landing in rural Kazakhstan in December 2017. Dmitri Lovetsky / EPA
Fast and furious: The record for the shortest trip to the International Space Station is held by an unmanned cargo Russian Progress 70 cargo ship in July last year, arriving in just under three hours and 40 minutes. Pictured is Progress 73 cargo launching on August 22, 2019. Roscosmos Space Agency Press Service photo via AP
Full house: The arrival of Soyuz MS-15 will take the number of astronauts on the ISS to nine, although there are normally only six. As a rule, there must always be enough ships docked to transport everyone home to Earth if the space station has to be evacuated. The ISS has four docking ports for Russian craft. There are already two Soyuz spaceships docked, plus a Progress cargo ship. Soyuz MS-15 will take the last Russian docking port.
The maximum number is 12, because its life support systems cannot safely take any more. But the record number is 13 - pictured here in 2010. How was this possible? The Nasa Space Shuttle had a crew of seven - but they were able to live onboard the much larger shuttle when it was docked on the ISS. Courtesy: Nasa