Cosmonaut Packing to Complete Record Setting Mission

Milky Way and Lightning Strike
Milky Way and Lightning Strike
As if the Milky Way in this photo wasn’t enough, Astronaut Kjell Lindgren captured a lightning strike from space so bright that it lights up the space station’s solar panels.

Expedition 44 Commander Gennady Padalka is packing gear inside the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft for his return home Friday with two first time space visitors. Padalka will be completing his fifth mission for a record 879 cumulative days in space.

Padalka will be flanked by visiting crew members Andreas Mogensen from Europe and cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov from Kazakhstan inside their Soyuz when they undock Friday at 5:29 p.m. EDT (21:29 UTC). They will land in Kazakhstan about three-and-a-half hours later. NASA Television will cover all the activities live, including the crew farewell, beginning at 1:45 p.m. (17:45 UTC).

The rest of the crew, which will officially become Expedition 45 when Padalka undocks, continued normal science and maintenance tasks. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly worked with a pair of tiny bowling ball-sized satellites outfitted with special gear to study fluid physics. He was later joined by cosmonauts Sergey Volkov and Mikhail Kornienko to review procedures and hardware they would use in the event of a medical emergency in space.

Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren worked on plumbing tasks before videotaping crew activities with an IMAX camera. Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui conducted a variety of life science experiments. Finally, cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko worked maintenance on Russian hardware before moving on to Russian science.

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