Cargo Ship and Crew Departure Preps Underway

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Cygnus Cargo Spacecraft

Astronaut Tim Peake photographed the Cygnus cargo spacecraft with its umbrella-like solar arrays. The Soyuz TMA-19M crew spaceship is seen to the left. Credit:

The crew aboard the International Space Station is set to say farewell to a pair of spaceships over the next several days. The first spaceship, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo craft, is being readied for its release Friday morning. After that, the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft will return to Earth March 1 bringing home three crew members.

Mission controllers in Houston are finalizing preparations before the 57.7 foot Canadarm2 robotic arm detaches Cygnus from the Unity module. NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra will command the Canadarm2 to release Cygnus at 7:25 a.m. EDT Friday. Finally, Orbital ATK controllers in Virginia will command Cygnus to move away from the station and head towards Earth to burn up high in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

Kelly, along with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, is in his final days of a mission that began in March of last year. The pair will take a ride home with three-time station resident Sergey Volkov who has been aboard the orbital lab since September. When the trio lands in Kazakhstan March 1, Kelly and Kornienko will have lived in space continuously for 340 days. Volkov’s mission will have lasted 182 days.

While the crew is busy with spacecraft departure activities, British astronaut Tim Peake worked on a variety of experiments today. He partnered with Kopra on a pair of experiments, one looking at how astronauts work on detailed interactive tasks and another researching cognitive performance. Peake also studied the thermophyscial properties of different metals inside Japan’s Electrostatic Levitation Furnace.

8 thoughts on “Cargo Ship and Crew Departure Preps Underway

  1. Heather Stafford

    Thank you for blessing all of us on earth with no possible way to have the experience you all have had. Your communications, tweets, photos and so on has helped me share your trip with my students and family. Be safe and thank you for sharing it with us!

  2. Patti Baker

    God speed to the trio of astronauts. May you have a safe journey home to Earth. Thank you for all that you’ve accomplished for mankind.

  3. He yuze

    You guys are great. How many hours do you have to work a day? I am a Chinese, I am a little interested in NASA. My name is He Yuze.


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