Like many space geeks I spent most of yesterday late afternoon - early evening, glued to NASA TV, watching the liftoff of the Soyuz Launch Vehicle, carrying Expedition 13 to the ISS. I like to think of myself as a veteran of many liftoffs ... thanks to Internet Live feeds that is :P, but this was my first live Soyuz launch. I did watch most of the videos available on Energia web site over the past weeks, but that doesn't top watching it live. BTW, if you happend to have missed it, some videos of the event are available on the web, courtesy of Energia (in RealPlayer format) and also on Space-Multimedia (Windows Media format).
Altought not as impressive as a Shuttle launch (IMHO), Soyuz launches are pretty nice to watch. The exhaust trail of the rocket, composed of the exhaust of the 5 engines is quiet impressive I think, and at time it is longer than the whole vehicle it-self (or so it seems)! Obviously, watching this kind of video is very helpful in getting that Orbiter's addon of mine right :-) What will be very sweet is a camera located on the rocket and looking down, like the camera on the External Tank (ET) of the Shuttle (video here). The ground views and inside the reentry module (SA) views are definitly nice but that can't top seeing the earth from the rocket's viewpoint. Seeing the strap-on booster and the shrouds falling away will be Über cool.
I do find the inside SA cameras pretty neat thought. It really help getting an idea on how it feel to ride a rocket. The 3rd stage (Block I) cutoff and entering into the weightless realm seems quiet rought (likely because of the separation of the Soyuz spacecraft from its booster). What will be interesting is to have the same view during the early moments of the liftoff (hint in case any Energia folks read this blog .. yeah right ... 9_9).