A new Expedition 39 trio waits at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for its launch Tuesday night to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Falcon rocket carrying the Dragon commercial cargo craft awaits its launch planned for Sunday evening from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
New Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov, Steve Swanson and Oleg Artemyev will launch aboard a Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft at 5:17 p.m. EDT for a six-hour ride to the orbital laboratory. Their rocket rolled out to the launch pad Sunday morning and has been raised into its vertical launch position.
After four orbits they will dock to the Poisk module at 11:04 p.m., with hatch opening targeted for 12:45 a.m. Waiting to greet them will be Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata and Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio and Mikhail Tyurin.
Meanwhile, the orbiting residents are busy with ongoing science, station maintenance and exercise.
Japanese astronaut Wakata started his morning working inside the Fluids Integrated Rack to prepare samples for the Advanced Colloids Experiment. That study observes microscopic particles suspended in a liquid with possible benefits for commercial products on Earth.
He spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning fans inside the Kibo laboratory. Wakata then set up sensors to measure air flow in the Japanese lab module.
Mastracchio, a NASA astronaut, worked throughout his morning on another fluids experiment performing test runs with participation from researchers on Earth. The ongoing Capillary Flow Experiment observes how fluids behave inside containers with complex geometries. Researchers can potentially use the data to model fluid transfer systems on future spacecraft.
During the afternoon Mastracchio performed some light plumbing work, pumping fluids from the Water Recovery Management System. He also assisted Wakata in the Kibo lab for the air flow measurement work.
Flight Engineer and veteran cosmonaut Tyurin worked in the station’s Russian segment inspecting and photographing windows inside the Pirs docking compartment. He also checked voice loops from Baikonur Cosmodrome in preparation for Tuesday’s launch.
SpaceX is getting ready for its third mission to deliver cargo to the orbital lab and safely return critical research and other gear back to Earth. The Falcon rocket carrying the Dragon resupply ship is planned for launch Sunday at 10:50 p.m. NASA TV coverage begins at 9:45 p.m. with a post-launch news conference to follow about 90 minutes after liftoff.
Dragon’s arrival and capture at the station begins Wednesday April 2 at about 7 a.m. Its installation would begin at 9:30 a.m.