Following a marathon day that saw the launch and docking of three new crewmates, the fully staffed Expedition 40 crew of the International Space Station enjoyed a day off Thursday to rest and recharge for the mission ahead.
NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, Soyuz Commander and cosmonaut Max Suraev of Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst were welcomed aboard the station when the hatches between their Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft and the station were opened at 11:52 p.m. EDT Wednesday.
The next trio of crew members destined for the International Space Station is now looking forward to a Thursday arrival at the orbiting laboratory after their Soyuz spacecraft was unable to complete its third thruster burn to fine-tune its approach.
The International Space Station’s Expedition 39 crew members spent Thursday conducting science experiments and performing routine maintenance to get their orbital home in shape for the arrival of three new crewmates set to launch Tuesday.
Commander Koichi Wakata got an early start on the workday as he conducted the Reaction experiment shortly after the crew’s regular wakeup time at 2 a.m. EDT. This experiment involves a reaction time task that allows the crew and researchers to track the effects of fatigue on performance.
NASA and its international partners have appointed crew members for a 2016 mission to the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut Jeff Williams is scheduled to launch in spring 2016 and return to Earth in fall 2016. He will join space station Expedition 47 crew members in orbit and will remain aboard as part of Expedition 48 with cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). Williams will assume command of the orbiting outpost upon the departure of Expedition 47's commander, Sergei Zaletin of Roscosmos.
The Expedition 38 crew said farewell to an unpiloted Russian cargo craft Monday morning while making preparations for the arrival of the next space freighter, which is set to make an expedited 6-hour journey to the International Space Station Wednesday.
The ISS Progress 52 cargo ship undocked from the Pirs docking compartment 11:21 a.m. EST, and backed away to a safe distance from the orbital complex to begin several days of tests to study thermal effects of space on its attitude control system.
The six station residents are busy with international research that can only be conducted in space while still providing Earth-bound benefits. Expedition 38 is also preparing for supplies to be delivered in February on a Russian resupply ship and a private SpaceX cargo craft.
NASA commercial partner Orbital Sciences Corporation launched its Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard the Antares rocket at 1:07 p.m. EST Thursday from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia for the Orbital-1 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.
› Complete coverage of Cygnus at http://www.nasa.gov/orbital
At the time of launch the station was flying about 260 miles over the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Brazil.
Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins continue preparing for a series of spacewalks to remove a failed pump module and install a spare pump module. NASA managers have planned for the first spacewalk to begin Saturday, the second on Monday and if necessary a third spacewalk on Christmas day.
Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini, Flight Director Dina Contella and lead spacewalk manager Allison Bolinger provided more details during a spacewalk briefing at Johnson Space Center.
NASA managers are evaluating whether to go for a Dec. 19 launch of Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus commercial resupply craft or move ahead with a series of spacewalks to repair a pump that is part of a cooling loop that shutdown last Wednesday due to low temperatures seen in the line.
Ground controllers have been sending commands to another valve that is part of the station’s cooling system. The hope is that this valve can be positioned in a way to help maintain the proper temperature in the loop, which could allow them to reintegrate part of the station’s internal electronics.
Earlier Wednesday, the pump module on one of the space station’s two external cooling loops automatically shut down when it reached pre-set temperature limits. These loops circulate ammonia outside the station to keep both internal and external equipment cool. The flight control teams worked to get the cooling loop back up and running, and they suspect a flow control valve actually inside the pump module itself might not be functioning correctly.