Soyuz Preps for Rollout as Station Crew Works Array of Science

Elena Serova
Cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Elena Serova works in the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

A trio of new Expedition 42 crew members is in its final preparations before Sunday’s launch and six-hour ride aboard a Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft to the International Space Station. The rocket with the Soyuz capsule attached will roll out to the launch pad Friday morning at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

› Read about live NASA TV coverage of the Expedition 42 launch

Aboard the orbital laboratory, the current crew members, Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova, are working their scheduled task list of ongoing science and maintenance.

Wilmore opened the Fluids Integrated Rack to configure a microscope for the ACE-M-3 experiment. The advanced fluids study observes small particles suspended within a liquid that build into 3D structures. During the afternoon, the commander worked on Europe’s Kubik incubator that supports life science with organisms such as seeds, cells and small animals.

› Read more about the Fluids Integrated Rack
› Read more about the ACE-M-3 study
› Read more about Kubik

The orbiting cosmonauts got back together again Thursday working on a Russian chemistry education experiment with Russian school children. The duo also worked throughout the Russian segment checking cables, inspecting panels and conducting preventative maintenance on the ventilation system and oxygen generator.

Botany Studies and Russian Maintenance as Soyuz Launch Nears

Expedition 42/43
jsc2014e093604 (Nov. 19, 2014) — In the Integration Facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 42/43 crewmembers Terry Virts of NASA (left), Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos, center) and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency (right) pose for pictures Nov. 19 in front of their Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Viktor Ivanov.

Commander Barry Wilmore worked in the Japanese Kibo lab module on the Aniso Tubule botany experiment that studies how roots adapt to gravity. After lunch, Wilmore went back to more hardware replacement work on the Combustion Integrated Rack that he began Tuesday. At the end of the day he configured a maintenance work area for upcoming operations of another botany study, the Seedling Growth experiment.

Read more about the botany studies… › Aniso Tubule, › Seedling Growth
› Read more about the Combustion Integrated Rack

Flight Engineer Alexander Samokutyaev worked in the Russian segment venting gas from an air conditioner. He was assisted by his fellow cosmonaut Elena Serova who also installed gas analyzer hardware and cleaned vents. The duo partnered up later in the day for a new chemistry education experiment with participation from Russian school children.

The next Expedition 42 trio waiting to join the International Space Station crew conducted final Sokol launch and entry suit fit checks at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA astronaut Terry Virts, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti are making final preparations before Sunday’s launch at 4:01 p.m. EST to the space station aboard the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft.

› Read about live NASA TV coverage of the Expedition 42 launch

Terry Virts
jsc2014e093607 (Nov. 19, 2014) — Terry Virts of NASA poses for a picture Nov. 19 by the Soyuz booster that will send the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft into orbit. Credit: NASA/Viktor Ivanov

Routine Maintenance on Station While Ground Crew Relaxes

Wilmore works on CIR
Barry Wilmore opened up the Combustion Integrated Rack and pulled out gear to replace hardware on the fiery experiment device. Credit: NASA TV

Commander Barry Wilmore worked throughout the day Tuesday in the Destiny laboratory’s Combustion Integrated Rack replacing hardware that fuels experiments. Afterward, he drained a waste water tank in the Tranquility node then moved on to a Health Maintenance System test.

› Read more about the Combustion Integrated Rack

Flight Engineer Alexander Samokutyaev replaced a battery module in the Zvezda service module then repaired and photographed an air duct. His fellow cosmonaut, Elena Serova, checked Russian sensors that monitor air pressure then proceeded with disinfectant work to prevent microbial growth in the Zarya module.

A new trio of Expedition 42 crew members is relaxing at the Cosmonaut Hotel crew quarters in Kazakhstan. Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineers Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti played games, had medical checks and planted trees during a traditional ceremony Tuesday.

Their Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft is being readied for its roll out to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Friday. The new crew will launch aboard the Soyuz on Sunday for a near six-hour ride to the International Space Station’s Rassvet module.

› Read about live NASA TV coverage of the Expedition 42 launch

3D Printer Installed as Station Preps for New Trio

Wilmore Installs 3D Printer
Commander Barry WIlmore works on Monday to install a 3D printer inside the Destiny laboratory’s Microgravity Science Glovebox. Credit: NASA TV

Commander Barry Wilmore worked throughout Monday to install a 3D printer to get the International Space Station and future crews ready for self-sufficiency. Wilmore will work to calibrate the printer and set up a demonstration of the additive manufacturing technology.

› Read about 3D Printing In Zero-G

His fellow crew members, Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova, worked on routine maintenance tasks and cargo transfers in the station’s Russian segment. They also paired up for a cardiovascular exam on an exercise bike, sampled the station’s atmosphere and tested television downlink signals.

The next trio to join Expedition 42 is in Kazakhstan counting down to a Nov. 23 launch aboard a Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft. They are set for a near six-hour ride to the International Space Station where they will live and work until May 2015.

Soyuz TMA-15M Launch Schedule
NASA TV will provide live televised coverage of the launch of Expedition 42 on Nov. 23 at 3:01 p.m. CST. Credit: NASA TV

Botany Science and Network Reconfigs as Future Crew Relaxes

Barry Wilmore in Destiny
Commander Barry Wilmore is in the Destiny lab module filling a water bag. Credit: NASA TV

The three orbiting Expedition 42 crew members are wrapping up the work week with science, cargo transfers and maintenance. Meanwhile, another crew is on the ground awaiting its launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Commander Barry Wilmore worked in the Kibo laboratory checking out the lab module’s robotic arm. He was also in the Destiny lab module studying plants, which can provide oxygen and food for future crews, for the Seedling Growth experiment. His fellow crewmates Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova worked in the station’s Russian segment off-loading cargo from the docked ISS Progress 57 resupply ship and reconfiguring networks.

› Read more about the Seedling Growth experiment

The next Expedition 42 trio is in Kazakhstan relaxing in their crew quarters at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur. Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineers Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti are preparing for a six hour trip to the International Space Station; they’re launching Nov. 23 aboard the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft.

Barry Wilmore in Kibo
Wilmore reconfigures robotics cables in Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. Credit: NASA TV

Station Trio Works Med Science as New Crew Preps for Launch

Cosmonauts Elena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev
Cosmonauts Elena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev, both Expedition 42 flight engineers, pose for a portrait inside the International Space Station.

The International Space Station is currently occupied by a trio of Expedition 42 crew members consisting of Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova. They are waiting for three more crew members, Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineers Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti, who are counting down to a launch to the orbital laboratory in less than two weeks.

Meanwhile, the orbiting station residents are continuing microgravity research to improve life on Earth and in space. Wilmore collected blood and urine samples for stowage in a science freezer. Samokutyaev reconfigured computer systems in the station’s Russian segment. Serova took measurements of the station’s internal radiation environment and studied the vibrations the station experiences on orbit. Serova and Samokutyaev also participated in hearing tests.

Read more about the Matryeshka experiment
Read more about the Identification experiment

Shkaplerov, Virts and Cristoforetti are at the launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for Soyuz fit checks. They will launch Nov. 23 at 3:01 p.m. EST aboard a Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft for a six-hour trip to the station and dock to the Rassvet module to begin a 5-1/2 month mission.

View the latest ISS On-Orbit Status Report

Station Avoids Satellite Debris After ATV-5 Fires Engines

ISS Configuration as of Nov, 9, 2014
The International Space Station configuration as of Nov, 9, 2014, shows the docked ATV-5 on the aft end of the Zvezda service module.

The International Space Station’s “Georges Lemaitre” Automated Transfer Vehicle fired its engines for 3 minutes, 25 seconds at 6:35 a.m. Central time today in a Pre-Determined Debris Avoidance Maneuver (PDAM) to move well away from a small piece of debris from a spent Chinese satellite (Yaogan 12) launched in November 2011.

The maneuver, which was coordinated with Russian and European flight controllers, raised the station’s altitude by 9/10 of a mile at apogee and 2/10 of a mile at perigee and left the station in an orbit of 262.3 x 252.0 statute miles.

The maneuver substituted for a previously planned reboost of the station that had been planned for Wednesday night which would have been required regardless to place the station at the proper altitude for the upcoming launch of the Expedition 42/43 crew on Nov. 23, U.S. time, on a 4-orbit, 6-hour rendezvous to reach the station.

Without the maneuver, the debris would have passed within 7/10 of a mile of the station at 8:40 a.m. Central time. The three-person crew on the station was informed of the potential conjunction and maneuver plans on Tuesday and was never in any danger.

Expedition 42 Crew Takes a Day Off After Colleagues Arrive Home Safely

Photo: Max Suraev welcomed home. Photo # jsc2014e092491
At Chkalovsky Airfield in Star City, Russia on the outskirts of Moscow, Expedition 41 Commander Max Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) is greeted by his daughters Nov. 10, just hours after he, NASA Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst landed in Kazakhstan in their Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft to complete a 165-day mission on the International Space Station. Suraev completed his second flight in space and has now logged 334 days in space on his two missions. Photo: NASA/Stephanie Stoll.

What is now the Expedition 42 crew is enjoying a pure off duty day today following the departure of Maxim Suraev, Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst, who landed at 10:58 p.m. EST Sunday night in their Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft northeast of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan. The trio is returning to their respective homes.

The current crew on the International Space Station is Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore of NASA, and Flight Engineers Elena Serova, Alexander Samoukutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos).

The rest of the Expedition 42 crew — Flight Engineers Terry Virts of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency — is relaxing today at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, and preparing to depart tomorrow for their launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for final pre-launch training for their liftoff in the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft on Nov. 23, U.S. time (Nov. 24, Baikonur time).

In other news, the high-resolution video of station astronauts putting a waterproof camera inside a floating ball of water is now available for easy download:

> Download water ball video