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.
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.
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.
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:
Expedition 41 Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman of NASA, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency and Commander Maxim Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) landed their Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft in Kazakhstan at 10:58 p.m. EST. The trio arrived at the International Space Station on May 29, and spent more than five months conducting research and maintenance activites.
Russian recovery teams will help the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and adjust to gravity after their stay in space. Wiseman, Gerst and Suraev spent 165 days aboard the space station and clocked more than 70 million miles during their time in space.
This was the first mission for both Wiseman and Gerst. Suraev now has spent 334 days in space during two missions, including Expeditions 21 and 22.
The station now is occupied by Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore of NASA and Flight Engineers Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova of Roscosmos. They will remain aboard the station to continue research and maintenance until the remainder of the Expedition 42 crew arrives later this month. NASA astronaut Terry Virts, Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti are scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Nov. 23, (U.S. time).
Expedition 41 crew members Reid Wiseman of NASA, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency and Soyuz Commander Maxim Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), are headed back to Earth following the 4-minute, 41-second Soyuz TMA-13M deorbit burn completed at 10:09 p.m. EST.
The three sections of the Soyuz spacecraft will pyrotechnically separate at 10:32 p.m., atmospheric entry interface occurs at 10:35 p.m., parachutes will open at 10:44 p.m. and landing is targeted for 10:58 p.m. northeast of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan.
NASA will continue broadcasting on all its television channels and online at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv until the crew members are safely removed from the Soyuz.
After spending 165 days aboard the International Space Station, Reid Wiseman, Alexander Gerst and Maxim Suraev undocked from the station’s Rassvet module at 7:31 p.m. EST to begin their voyage home. Suraev, the Soyuz commander, is at the controls of the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft.
They will perform a separation burn to increase the distance from the station before executing a 4-minute, 41-second deorbit burn at 10:05 p.m. The crew is scheduled to land at 10:58 p.m. northeast of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan.
The departure of Wiseman, Gerst and Suraev marks the end of Expedition 41. The Expedition 42 crew members, Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore of NASA and Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) will continue research and maintenance aboard the station.
NASA Television will air live coverage of the Soyuz TMA-13M deorbit burn and landing beginning at 9:45 p.m.
Here is the timeline for the Expedition 41 landing.
At 4:27 p.m. EST, hatches closed between the International Space Station and Soyuz TMA-13M. Expedition 41 crew members Reid Wiseman, Alexander Gerst and Soyuz Commander Maxim Suraev are preparing to undock at 7:31 p.m. NASA Television will air live coverage of undocking beginning at 7:15 p.m.
The deorbit burn is targeted for 10:05 p.m. and will lead to a landing at 10:58 p.m. northeast of Arkalyk in Kazakhstan. NASA TV coverage of deorbit and landing begins at 9:45 p.m. Watch live at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv.
The new gallery includes a tour of the space station and astronauts exploring water surface tension in microgravity with both the 3-D camera and a miniature HD camera in a waterproof case inside a volleyball-sized water bubble. Standard two-dimensional versions of both the tour video and the water surface tension video are also available.
Meanwhile, the homebound Expedition 40/41 trio of Soyuz Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst spent Thursday morning reviewing their Soyuz undocking and descent activities ahead of their Nov. 9 landing in Kazakhstan. Their orbiting Expedition 41/42 crewmates Flight Engineers Barry Wilmore, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova practiced emergency communication and coordination tasks.
At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, the Expedition 42/43 crew’s Terry Virts of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency are making final preparations for launch Nov. 23 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a Soyuz spacecraft that will deliver them for a 5 ½ month mission on the International Space Station.
And for the latest roundup of information on the space station, watch the latest edition of Space to Ground.
The homebound Expedition 40/41 trio of Soyuz Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineers Reid Wiseman and Alexander Gerst spent Thursday morning reviewing their Soyuz undocking and descent activities ahead of their Nov. 9 landing in Kazakhstan. Their orbiting Expedition 41/42 crewmates Flight Engineers Barry Wilmore, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova practiced emergency communication and coordination tasks.
The crew also had time set aside for a variety of medical and physical science. Gerst conducted Ultrasound eye scans on Wilmore. Reid strapped on sensors and exercised for the Sprint study. Serova collected data for the Matryeshka radiation detection experiment. Suraev and Samokutyaev worked on cargo transfers and Soyuz preparations.
Expedition 42/43 crew members Terry Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov are due to liftoff Nov. 23 aboard a Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft for a six hour ride to their new home in space. They were in Star City, Russia, for a news conference before going to Moscow for traditional pre-launch ceremonies.