The three-member Expedition 39 crew was busy Thursday with robotics training, sound level checks and an array of international science. They are waiting to be joined by another trio who are at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, making final preparations for their March 25 launch.
SpaceX is counting down to its March 16 launch of a Falcon rocket that will deliver the Dragon commercial cargo capsule to orbit. The Dragon resupply ship will deliver nearly 5,000 pounds of cargo to the station crew and return over 3,500 pounds of research gear, spacewalk tools and other supplies.
Commander Koichi Wakata joined Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio for more robotics training to prepare for the arrival and capture of Dragon when it arrives March 18. The duo trained in the afternoon for the grapple of Dragon when the Canadarm2 reaches out and captures the free-flying capsule.
Wakata started his day talking to Japanese reporters in the Tokyo office of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. He talked about mission activities and his thoughts on being Japan’s first commander of the International Space Station.
The commander later spent a couple of hours checking the sound levels inside the space station’s three lab modules, two nodes, the cupola and the Zvezda service module. He took 56 sound measurements using a sound level meter that is part of the station’s Environmental Health System.
Mastracchio spent his morning on a six-month inspection and axle greasing of a treadmill. He then activated the treadmill to perform a speed test without attaching himself to the device.
Wakata and Mastracchio also joined up for a conference with NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and members of the U.S. Senate Youth Group.
Cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin worked on a few science experiments as well as maintenance tasks in the station’s Russian segment. He took photographs for the Uragan Earth observation study. He then downloaded data collected for the Obstanovka experiment which observes how the ionosphere and plasma waves affect the space station.
Three new crew members are making final preparations for their launch to join the orbiting Expedition 39 trio. Flight Engineers Steve Swanson, Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev have left for the Baikonur Cosmodrome where they will launch March 25 aboard a Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft. They will dock to the Poisk module after a six-hour ride to the station to join their crewmates.