Three Expedition 36 crew members are preparing for their return home Tuesday night. A Japanese cargo craft that left the International Space Station on Wednesday will deorbit Saturday morning over the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, the six-member station crew continues its focus on international science and maintenance while exercising to counter the effects of long-duration microgravity.
Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy and Alexander Misurkin finalized their Soyuz descent training Friday. They are scheduled to land in their Soyuz TMA-08M Tuesday at 10:59 p.m. EDT (8:59 a.m. Wednesday Kazakhstan time).
Vinogradov will ceremonially hand over control of the station to Flight Engineer Fyodor Yurchikhin at 2:25 p.m. Monday in a traditional Change of Command Ceremony. When Expedition 36 undocks, Yurchikhin will officially become Expedition 37 commander staying behind with Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano. The station residents staying behind reviewed their emergency roles and responsibilities during the upcoming crew exchange.
As the station says goodbye to two vehicles and a departing trio, a new cargo craft and a new crew are being readied for launches this month. Orbital Sciences is preparing its Cygnus commercial cargo craft for a Sept. 17 demonstration mission to the station. In Russia, Expedition 37/38 crew members Oleg Kotov, Mike Hopkins and Sergey Ryazanskiy are counting down to their Sept. 25 launch.
A variety of science is taking place on the orbital laboratory sponsored by both public and commercial organizations. Microgravity science takes advantage of the weightless environment for research not possible on Earth to improve life and expand knowledge.
Cassidy, photographed samples collected for the BCAT-C1 (Binary Colloidal Alloy Test) experiment. That study observes nano-particles dispersed in liquids with potential benefits for different industries such as foods and electronics. Nyberg joined Parmitano for spinal scans using ultrasound and electrocardiogram gear. The scanning data is downlinked real-time to Earth for study by medical investigators.
Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle “Kounotori-4” is poised to reenter Earth’s atmosphere Saturday ending a month long stay in space. In anticipation of the Kounotori-4’s fiery descent over the Pacific Ocean, Cassidy set up three cameras inside the cupola to capture the event.