Expedition 43 crew members Terry Virts, Anton Shkaplerov and Samantha Cristoforetti will return to Earth June 11 at 9:43 a.m. EDT. The trio from the U.S., Russia and Italy will enter the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft, undock from the Rassvet module and land in Kazakhstan after 6-1/2 months in space.
The homebound crew is packing gear in their Soyuz vehicle and training to use the Lower Body Negative Pressure suit which gets their bodies ready for the return Earth’s gravity. In the midst of Soyuz departure preparations, the crew is also continuing the International Space Station’s mission of advanced microgravity science to benefit life on Earth and in space.
There was more Rodent Research work on Friday as scientists study mice to understand the effects of weightlessness on muscles and bones. The crew is also participating in the Fine Motor Skills experiment which looks at how astronauts interact with touch-based technologies and spacecraft instrumentation.
Spacesuit maintenance took up most of the day for a pair of astronauts. Crew members also explored the long-term effects of microgravity on the brain and vision.
Commander Terry Virts joined Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in the Quest joint airlock to swap out a fan pump separator inside a U.S. spacesuit. The duo are checking the device after earlier maintenance work revealed it wasn’t functioning properly.
Before that work began, Cristoforetti relocated the Protein Crystallization Research Facility in Japan’s Kibo lab module. Virts wrapped up his workday with some maintenance in a science freezer ensuring it stays cold enough to store biological samples for later analysis.
One-Year crew members Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly joined fellow Soyuz crewmate Gennady Padalka for ongoing Fluid Shifts experiment work. The trio received assistance from ground operators as they collected vision data using a variety of medical tools. Watch an interview with Mike Stenger, one of the co-principal investigators of the Fluid Shifts experiment.
The six-member Expedition 43 crew conducted a variety of advanced microgravity science and performed spacesuit maintenance. U.S. astronauts Terry Virts and Scott Kelly also commemorated 50 years of operations in Houston’s Mission Control Center.
The orbital lab’s inhabitants explored a complex set of subjects in space including physics, biology and crew health. Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka studied plasma crystals which could benefit future spacecraft design. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti continued her work with the Rodent Research experiment that could potentially lead to new drugs to treat diseases on Earth.
One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko was back at work on the Fluid Shifts study partnering with Kelly and Padalka. The trio took measurements as part of an investigation to better understand how microgravity impacts fluid pressure in the head, changes in vision and eye structures.
On June 3, 1965, Mission Control Center in Houston began operations when Gemini IV lifted off for a four-day mission with astronauts James McDivitt and Ed White. America’s first spacewalk also took place during that mission when White floated out of the spacecraft attached to a 25-foot umbilical line and tether.
The Expedition 43 crew is wrapping up the remodeling of the Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) at its new location on the forward port of the Tranquility module. The station residents also participated in maintenance and experiments exploring the long-term effects of living in space on the human body.
Commander Terry Virts and One-Year crew member Scott Kelly are finalizing configuration tasks in the PMM after Wednesday’s relocation from the Harmony module. Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti was working in Europe’s Columbus lab module on advanced microgravity plumbing tasks.
One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko teamed up with Flight Engineer Gennady Padalka for the Fluid Shifts experiment studying how upper and lower body fluid shifts affect a crew member’s brain pressure and vision. Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov worked throughout the station’s Russian segment on orbital maintenance.
Over the weekend the crew the six-member international crew will have time to relax, exercise and talk to family members.
The Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) has been reopened at its new location on the forward port of the Tranquility module. Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti worked on completing PMM configuration activities.
Meanwhile, the Expedition 43 crew went about its scheduled tasks of microgravity science and orbital maintenance.
One-Year crew member Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Gennady Padalka joined each other for the Fluid Shifts study. That experiment observes how upper and lower body fluid shifts may affect a crew member’s brain pressure and vision.
Kelly’s fellow One-Year crew member, Mikhail Kornienko, explored how fluid changes in microgravity can affect a crew member’s immunology and blood pressure for the Morze experiment. Flight Engineer Anton Shkaplerov primarily worked maintenance in the station’s Russian segment.
The Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) was successfully relocated from the Unity module to the Tranquility module Wednesday morning. Engineers from Canada and Houston jointly maneuvered the PMM with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Astronauts Terry Virts and Scott Kelly monitored the installation then successfully bolted the PMM in place on Tranquility. The duo are now getting the PMM ready for its hatch opening Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Expedition 43 crew also conducted periodic fitness evaluations and worked on a fluid physics experiment observing surface tension where liquid and gas meet. In the Russian segment, the cosmonauts studied the effects of earthquakes on the Earth’s ionosphere and explored how sound waves can help pinpoint micrometeoroid impacts.
The Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) was successfully relocated from the Unity module to the Tranquility module at 9:08 a.m. EDT Wednesday.
The PMM was robotically relocated from the Earth-facing port of the Unity module on the International Space Station to the forward port of the Tranquility module in the next step to reconfigure the complex for the future arrival of U.S. commercial crew vehicles. Robotic flight controllers at Mission Control, Houston, working in tandem with the Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Operations Center at the Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters in St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada, used the Canadarm2 robotic arm to maneuver the 11-ton module a short distance to its new location. Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineer Scott Kelly of NASA supervised the commanding of the bolting of the PMM to Tranquility. The PMM’s hatch will be reopened tomorrow.
The operation opened the Earth-facing port of Unity as another berthing location for U.S. commercial cargo vehicles. Future U.S. commercial crew vehicles will arrive at the space-facing and forward ports of the Harmony module, which will continue its transformation later this year when a pair of International Docking Adapters (IDAs) will be delivered on the seventh and ninth NASA-contracted SpaceX cargo resupply missions. The IDAs will be attached to Pressurized Mating Adapters 2 and 3, enabling the station to host up to two U.S. commercial cargo and two U.S. commercial crew vehicles at any given time.
The International Space Station’s Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) was detached from a berthing mechanism on the Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 5:50 a.m. EDT by robotics flight controllers at Mission Control, Houston, working in tandem with Canadian Space Agency (CSA) engineers at the robotics support center located at CSA Headquarters in St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada. Used as a supply depot for the orbital laboratory, the 11-ton PMM is being maneuvered to an installation position at the forward port of the Tranquility module through the use of the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2. NASA Television will provide coverage of the final steps of the installation and provide a replay of pertinent video from the start of the operation beginning at 8 a.m. EDT.
Once it is in the proper position, Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts and Flight Engineer Scott Kelly of NASA will oversee the module’s final attachment to Tranquility. Virts and Kelly will reopen the hatch to the PMM at its new location tomorrow.
This move will clear the Unity port for its use as a second berthing location for U.S. commercial cargo spacecraft; the Earth-facing port on Harmony is currently used as the home port for U.S. cargo craft. The relocation of the PMM is the next step in the reconfiguration of the station that will allow U.S. commercial crew vehicles to dock to new docking ports on the forward and space-facing side of the Harmony module. That will provide a total of four ports for U.S. vehicles arriving at the orbital outpost.
A cargo module is getting ready to be relocated from the Unity module to the Tranquility module Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, the crew also conducted science, health checks and Japanese robotics work.
Commander Terry Virts and One-Year crew member Scott Kelly prepared the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) for its relocation. The duo closed the hatch on the large storage module and configured it for detachment tomorrow morning. Watch NASA TV Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. EDT for live coverage of the PMM relocation and installation that will prepare the International Space Station for future commercial crew vehicles. Also, you can view briefing graphics from a spacewalk to prepare for the PMM work
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti worked in Japan’s Kibo lab module maneuvering its robotic arm’s Small Fine Arm to install experiment samples on an external platform. She also photographed her work during the robotics activities.
The three cosmonauts, including One-Year crew member Mikhail Kornienko, worked numerous science experiments and maintenance in the Russian segment. The trio observed how a crew member’s metabolism and motion adapt to microgravity, explored how sound waves could help pinpoint micrometeoroid impacts and studied the electromagnetic environment that surrounds space station.
SpaceX’s Dragon cargo craft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:42 p.m. EDT, about 155 miles southwest of Long Beach, California, marking the end of the company’s sixth contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.
The spacecraft is returning more than 3,100 pounds of NASA cargo and science samples from the International Space Station. A boat will take the Dragon spacecraft to a port near Los Angeles, where some cargo will be removed and returned to NASA within 48 hours. Dragon will be prepared for a return journey to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for processing.
The mission was the sixth of 15 cargo resupply trips SpaceX will make to the space station through 2016 under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.