Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus commercial cargo craft is being prepared for its release after completing a successful demonstration mission to the International Space Station. Cygnus delivered 1,300 pounds of gear on Sept. 29 when it arrived and was captured by Canadarm2 and berthed to the Harmony node.
The hatches between Cygnus and the station were closed Monday at 6:42 a.m. EDT. The Cygnus, filled with trash and discarded items, is planned to be released from the Canadarm2 at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. NASA Television will cover the event beginning at 7 a.m. On Wednesday, the Cygnus will fire its engines for the last time at 1:41 p.m. and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere for a fiery destruction over the Pacific Ocean.
Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg, Luca Parmitano and Mike Hopkins worked throughout the day readying the Cygnus for its release. They worked on various activities including configuring the Harmony node’s vestibule for Cygnus’ demating and depressurizing. Afterwards, the trio gathered to review their Cygnus departure activities.
Europe’s “Albert Einstein” Automated Transfer Vehicle-4 (ATV-4) is also being readied for its undocking from the Zvezda service module Oct. 28 at 4:59 a.m. It will be deorbited Nov. 2 when it will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific. The ATV-4 has been at the station since June 15 when it delivered 5,465 pounds of gear and several thousand more pounds of propellant, water, oxygen and air.
The first Expedition 37 spacewalk is planned for Nov. 9 two days after the Expedition 38 crew launches and docks to the station. Spacewalkers Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy will carry the Olympic torch outside the Pirs docking compartment.
Expedition 38 Flight Engineers Mikhail Tyurin, Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata will take a six-hour trip to the space station and dock Nov. 7 aboard the Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft. They will deliver the Olympic torch that will be used during the opening ceremonies for the2014 Winter Olympics on Feb. 7 in Sochi, Russia.
Expedition 37 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano will return to Earth landing Nov. 11 in Kazakhstan. They will return the Olympic torch with them inside the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft.