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.
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.
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:
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.
ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst scanned his arteries then measured his body shape and size Wednesday. Flight Engineer Barry Wilmore joined Gerst for the scanning activities using an Ultrasound for the Cardio Ox experiment. NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman assisted Gerst with the Body Measures study.
In the Russian segment of the orbital laboratory, Commander Max Suraev continued packing gear inside the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft that he, Wiseman and Gerst will use to return to Earth on Nov. 9. Cosmonaut Alexander Samokutyaev assisted Suraev’s departure effort, checking the Iridium phones used in the Soyuz for emergency communications. Elena Serova participated in a psychophysiological evaluation, then inventoried gear in the Zarya module and Pirs docking compartment.
The next trio to launch to the station is getting ready for a news conference to be held Thursday in Star City, Russia, before going to Moscow for traditional pre-launch ceremonies. Expedition 42/43 crew members Terry Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov are due to liftoff Nov. 23 aboard their Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft for a six hour ride to their new home in space.